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Tomos Francis Poised To Become Double Winner Before Wales Link-Up

By David Williams

Tomas Francis will have more medals in mind this week as he prepares for a possible Heineken Champions Cup and English Premiership double with Exeter Chiefs.

The Wales tight head prop will be missing from the international warm-up match with France in Paris this weekend because of club commitments.

The Chiefs meet Wasps at Twickenham in what will be their fifth successive Premiership final.

Francis has featured in the previous four, picking up a winners’ medal against Wasps in the 23-20 extra-time triumph in 2017, and will head to the home of English rugby on Saturday as the 13th Welsh winner of the top European title.

The Chiefs’ beat Racing 92 31-27 in the Heineken Champions Cup final at Bristol’s Ashton Gate with Francis coming on to replace Harry Williams on 55 minutes.

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Joining him at the same time in the front row was former Cardiff Met student Jack Yeandle, while the former Cardiff University and Bridgend wing Tom O’Flaherty started.

The Chiefs conquered Europe in only their 10th season as a top-flight team, ultimately flooring the French heavyweights at Ashton Gate through a combination of forward power and ruthless finishing.

But a gripping game saw the teams trade blow after blow, with eight touchdowns in total before Exeter prevailed through scores by hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie, No 8 Sam Simmonds, prop Harry Williams and centre Henry Slade, with captain Joe Simmonds kicking four conversions and a last-gasp penalty after Francis had been sin-binned.

“My emotions are all over the place, really,” Exeter rugby director Baxter said. “It was a funny game, wasn’t it?

“It kind of wasn’t an Exeter Chiefs type of game, yet we ended up winning it. We didn’t really piece the game together at all, really.

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“In some ways, it was some of our poorest attack and poorest defence of the season. The occasion itself was a little bit different to some of the other things we have experienced.

But when we had to, we saw it through. We won the game by four points on the scoreboard, and that is pretty much what people will ever remember in three or four years’ time.

“We’ve had our first go at a European semi-final and a final, and we’ve won them both. It is great for this group of players.”

Francis, who has won 48 caps to date, joined current Wales Squad members Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams and Nick Tompkins as Heineken Champions Cup winners.

The full list of Welsh players who have carried off a winners’ medal is:

 

1997       Tony Rees (Brive)

1998       Ieuan Evans, Nathan Thomas, Richard Webster (Bath)

2000       Allan Bateman, Andy Newman (Northampton Saints)

2004       Rob Howley (Wasps)

2005       Gareth Thomas (Toulouse)

2013       Gethin Jenkins (Toulon)

2015       Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon)

2019       Nick Tomkins, Liam Williams (Saracens)

2020       Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs)

 

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