Exeter league status safe as they escape with penalty of two points
Exeter, doughty performers throughout their first season at the elite end of the English club game, will be playing Premiership rugby again next season. This should have been a matter of record some time ago – the Devonians have, after all, been winning regularly, which is more than can be said for any of the three northern sides in the top flight – but a mix-up over foreign player registration left them vulnerable to the whims and fancies of Twickenham's disciplinary class. They were duly punished yesterday, but nowhere near heavily enough to threaten their current status.
A Rugby Football Union tribunal chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett, the chief disciplinary officer, docked the club two Premiership points and fined them £5,000 for naming three foreign players, rather than the permitted two, in squads for games either side of April Fool's Day. The sanction makes no difference to Exeter's league position – they stay ninth with one fixture left and are miles ahead of 10th-placed Sale. Indeed, victory over Wasps at Sandy Park a week on Saturday could see them finish eighth.
Meanwhile, the rugby world continues to wait for Gavin Henson to part company with the French club Toulon – a separation widely assumed to have already happened, but still unconfirmed by either party. Henson, suspended after a whole 157 minutes of competitive rugby on the Cote d'Azur for fighting with team-mates during a boozy night out in Hyères, met the club owner Mourad Boudjellal yesterday. The word from Toulon insiders was that Boudjellal would spend a day reflecting on the matter before a decision on the player's future.
One player whose future is more or less behind him is the Bath lock Danny Grewcock, who, in his pomp, played some stunning rugby for both England and the British and Irish Lions. Not renowned as a pacifist, Grewcock is still stunning the odd opponent on behalf of the West Country side, but he will call it a day at the end of the season – hardly an unreasonable decision for a 38-year-old earning his corn in one of the sport's more physically demanding positions.
Grewcock will take up a position on the Bath staff, mentoring young players from local clubs, as well as full-time academy members.
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