Rob Baxter wants changes to disciplinary process after Exeter duo are banned

Rob Baxter wants players to have a far greater say in rugby’s disciplinary process after two of his were handed season-ending bans.

The boss of champions Exeter must do without forwards Sam Skinner and Dave Ewers for the Premiership play-offs after each was suspended for four weeks.

The pair were sanctioned for dangerous tackles in last weekend’s win against Sale, who return to Sandy Park on Saturday for a heavyweight semi-final.

Baxter has told the rest of his team they owe it to them to get Chiefs back to Twickenham for a sixth straight final as the cards were down to a collective failing.

But he has also taken aim at the game’s authorities over a disciplinary process he considers inconsistent and unfair.

Baxter claimed: “There is a lack of empathy for the players involved in the incidents and I definitely think it is getting to the stage that current players need to have a lot more input around making the laws and how they are refereed and cited.

“There are a number playing now who feel the law changes and regulations and disciplinary procedure is not being directed for them.

“I’m not saying there isn’t a need to look at head contact, of course there is. But there are two sides to every process and it isn’t feeling like that at the moment.”

Ewers, Baxter points out, had never before received a card of any colour for foul play in more than a decade with Exeter.

Yet the disciplinary panel ruled there were no mitigating factors involved in his collision and upgraded his yellow card to a four-match ban.

“The actual ruling is not a problem,” Baxter added. “I am not complaining that the four-week ban should be a different ban, I am talking about how they are found to be guilty in the first place.

"None of us are naive enough to not realise that this has come about based on movements by ex-players. Which is fine. But the players who are playing the game should have an equal, if not bigger, say."

He knows head injuries is the hot topic in rugby and that there is “huge pressure” on governing bodies given the threat of law suits being issued against them.

“But you need to understand players are not stupid,” he said. “These guys go through a concussion education module every year – it’s not something that is just laughed and joked off.

“These are the guys who go through the HIA process, so there’s a huge awareness. They are the most educated group of players we have ever had in the history of rugby union.

“There really needs to be a move by them to take a hold of this.”

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