There was a second when Exeter head coach Rob Baxter was ready to do his post-match tv interview on the touchline at Ashton Gate.
When the tv director lower to him, he was nonetheless turned over his shoulder, his again to the microphone, to gaze adoringly at his staff as they posed with their first Champions Cup trophy and sprayed the sponsor’s finest.
Baxter will not be wanting again for lengthy.
A lot of the build-up to the ultimate, received in nerve-jangling vogue towards Parisians Racing 92, centered on his staff’s decade-long climb from second-tier wannabes to European royalty.
However that regular rise, splintering English membership rugby’s hierarchy, has been constructed on chairman Tony Rowe’s season-by-season plans. All the time wanting forward at how far nonetheless to climb, quite than stopping to admire the view.
Subsequent weekend, and the possibility to finish the second half of the Double within the Premiership last towards Wasps, looms massive.
However, as they journey dwelling again down the M5, Baxter, Rowe and the remainder may already be permitting their minds to wander a bit long term.
The latest historical past of the Champions Cup has been dominated by dynasties.
Leinster received it 3 times in 4 seasons from 2009.
Toulon received three in a row from 2013. Exeter are solely too conscious of Saracens’ streak of success that included three of the previous 4 titles.
For Baxter that’s the problem. But in addition the chance.
His combine, combining sons of the south-west – seven of the beginning XV got here by means of the membership’s academy – with a pinch of stardust in Scotland internationals Stuart Hogg and Jonny Grey is potent stuff.
With Saracens’ previous achievements known as into query and their future thrown into doubt by the salary-cap scandal, Exeter are undoubtedly England’s dominant membership aspect.
Having seen off a star-studded Racing within the last and Prime 14 champions Toulouse within the semi-finals, they are going to come into subsequent season’s title defence figuring out they will flip over the most effective from throughout the Channel.
Off the pitch, they appear a distance away from the remainder as nicely.
Final season, they have been the one membership within the Premiership to return a revenue. As coronavirus corrodes the video games’ funds, they’re extra steady than most.
The largest risk to Exeter may, certainly, be their very own success.
Baxter has already mentioned that the 2020-21 rugby calendar, compressed by coronavirus and clogged with a backlog of worldwide motion, will make subsequent season “very difficult”.
His squad, a number of of whom have been sat within the ticker tape phoning absent household after the trophy presentation, can anticipate England head coach Eddie Jones to be dialling their quantity and taking them away from Sandy Park for lengthy stretches.
With George Kruis packing his luggage for Japan and Courtney Lawes dominated out of the autumn with harm, uncapped second row Jonny Hill have to be shut to creating an England squad for the primary time since he toured South Africa in 2018.
Fly-half Joe Simmonds’ clever kicking from hand, accuracy off the tee and captaincy at simply 23 years of age marked him out as a recreation supervisor of high quality.
Brother Sam Simmonds, who scored his nineteenth strive of the season through the win over Racing and received the European Participant of the 12 months award after, has the impetus that has gone lacking from Billy Vunipola’s recreation lately.
Luke Cowan-Dickie’s relentlessness, Henry Slade’s mastery of time and area in midfield, Jack Nowell’s bottomless urge for food for work – all stood out within the rarefied air of a European last.
In fact, Exeter have been right here earlier than. Don Armand and Matt Kvesic have been championed by Chiefs followers, solely to be largely ignored by England. Jones isn’t moved by public sentiment, his squad choices exhausting to second-guess.
However Exeter’s cohesion at membership stage might add to all their gamers’ instances for worldwide inclusion.
Saracens have equipped England’s backbone in recent times.
However whereas Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Maro Itoje, Jamie George, Billy Vunipola and brother Mako have signed on to remain collectively, they’re unlikely to play collectively for his or her membership subsequent season.
With Saracens relegated to the Championship, some have been linked with loans away. Others are utilizing the time to relaxation up and keep contemporary for worldwide motion.
Will it hold them sharp? Or uninteresting their edge?
The Chiefs are first in line if the latter. And possibly, Jones will conduct some surgical procedure, if not a full transplant, on that backbone regardless.