Exeter Rugby
Full nameExeter Rugby Club
UnionDevon RFU
Founded1871; 153 years ago (1871)
LocationExeter, Devon, England
Ground(s)Sandy Park (Capacity: 15,600)
ChairmanTony Rowe OBE
CEOTony Rowe OBE
Director of RugbyRob Baxter
Captain(s)Jack Yeandle & Dafydd Jenkins
Most appearancesBen Moon (300)
Top scorerGareth Steenson (2,531)
Most triesSam Simmonds (85)
League(s)Premiership Rugby
2021–227th
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website
www.exeterchiefs.co.uk

Exeter Chiefs (officially Exeter Rugby Club) is an English professional rugby union club based in Exeter, Devon.[1] They play in Premiership Rugby, England's top division of rugby.

The club was founded in 1871 and since 2006 has played its home matches at Sandy Park, a purpose-built facility on the outskirts of the city. They have been known by the name Chiefs since 1999. The club was promoted to the Premiership for the first time in 2010. Since promotion, the Chiefs have become one of the leading clubs in the Premiership, winning the championship title twice, in 2016–17 and 2019–20 respectively, and reaching a further four finals. In October 2020, the Chiefs won the Champions Cup, the top prize in European club rugby union, for the first time, defeating French club Racing 92 in the final of a tournament that was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exeter are the only club to win the top four tiers of English rugby, winning the Premiership in 2017 and 2020, RFU Championship in 2010, National League 1 in 1997 and National League 2 South in 1996. They have won the Anglo-Welsh Cup/Premiership Rugby Cup three times, most recently in 2022–23, and the European Rugby Champions Cup once, in 2020.

The current director of rugby is Rob Baxter, who was appointed in March 2009.

History

Early years

Exeter Rugby Club was founded in 1871. The club played its first match in 1873 against St. Luke's College, and in 1890 won the Devon Cup.[2] In 1905, the club hosted the first match played by New Zealand on English soil and also in the Northern Hemisphere, at the County Ground. The visitors fixture was against a Devon County XV.[3] It was from that game that New Zealand became known as the "All Blacks".[4]

When league rugby started, Exeter were initially placed in the Devon leagues.

Early league and professional era

In 1993 and 1995, Exeter reached the quarter finals of the Pilkington Cup before being knocked out by top division opponents Leicester Tigers and London Wasps respectively.[2]

In 1997, Exeter were promoted into the Premiership Two for the first time from National League 1. They regularly finished in the top half of the table. In 2005, Exeter finished second in the league, missing out on promotion by four points behind Bristol Rugby. The next season, they moved from the County Ground to Sandy Park due to a need for modern facilities that included corporate hospitality.[5] In 2008 they again finished in second place and again missed out on promotion by finishing behind Northampton Saints. The same situation happened the next season when Exeter finished behind Leeds Carnegie.

Premiership

In 2009, National Division One was reorganised into the RFU Championship with playoffs. During the regular league season, Exeter finished second behind Bristol. In the playoffs, they defeated Bedford Blues and Nottingham, before facing Bristol in the two legged final.[6] Exeter won 9–6 in the first leg at Sandy Park and then won 29–10 at Bristol's Memorial Stadium in the second leg to win promotion to the Premiership for the first time.[7]

In their first season in the Premiership, they finished eighth[8] despite a two-point deduction and a £5,000 fine for fielding too many overseas players during their match against Leeds Carnegie at Headingley Stadium.[9] They also made their debut in the European Challenge Cup, making their way to the quarter finals where they lost to Stade Français.[10] In the next season, they finished fifth in the Premiership which permitted them to play in the Heineken Cup for the first time.[9] In their first season in the Heineken Cup, they were drawn against French Clermont Auvergne, Irish Leinster Rugby and Welsh Scarlets in the group stage. They finished the group third with nine points ahead of Scarlets.[11] In 2014, Exeter Chiefs won their first major rugby trophy after they defeated Northampton Saints in the Anglo-Welsh Cup 15–8 at Sandy Park.[12]

Recent seasons

In the 2015–16 season the Chiefs finished in second place in Premiership Rugby[13] entitling them to a home semi final in the Aviva Premiership which was played against Wasps. They won the match 34-23[14] thanks to two penalty tries, a try from Ian Whitten and a try from Dave Ewers as well as two penalties and four conversions from Gareth Steenson. This meant the Chiefs qualified to their first Aviva Premiership final on 28 May. They lost 28–20 to champions Saracens despite tries from England international Jack Nowell and club captain Jack Yeandle as well as 2 penalties and 2 conversions from Gareth Steenson.[15]

The Chiefs also reached the quarter-final of the European Champions Cup in 2015–16. They were drawn away to Wasps in a tight game which they eventually lost 25–24 at the Ricoh Arena after Wasps' Jimmy Gopperth kicked a last-minute conversion.[16]

In 2016–17, the Chiefs won the Premiership for the first time in their history by beating Wasps in the final 23–20. The game finished 20–20 at full time with captain Gareth Steenson slotting a late penalty to take it to extra time. In extra time, Steenson added another penalty to secure the victory.[17]

The Chiefs finished the 2017–18 season eight points clear at the top of the Premiership Rugby table, but ultimately lost to 27–10 to Saracens in the final on 26 May 2018.[18]

The Chiefs saw their most success to date during the 2019–20 season, winning an historic double of the European Rugby Champions Cup, in their first appearance in the final, and the Premiership.[19]

In light of several controversies regarding their crest, the club unveiled a new logo ahead of the 2022–23 season (see below).[20]

Stadium

Exeter play their home games at Sandy Park, which is located on the outskirts of the city. The club moved from their previous home, the County Ground, in 2006 having played there regularly since 1905.[21] In 2002, Exeter Chiefs started looking for a new stadium because they felt the County Ground provided insufficient opportunities for growth. Despite concerns and opposition from traditionalists within the club, the motion to move was passed by 99% of the attendees at Exeter's annual general meeting.[2] Sandy Park can accommodate 12,800 spectators, however, there are plans to increase this capacity to 20,600 with phase one having begun in early 2014.[22] These plans came about because of a requirement for later stages of European matches to be played at grounds with a capacity of at least 20,000.[23] Following recent East stand changes during 21/22, capacity now at 15,600

Logos and Kits

Current kit

The kit is supplied by Samurai Rugby Gear. On the front of the shirt, Troy appear on the centre and the top left and Watson is on the top right. M.J Baker Foods is on the right sleeve. On the back of the shirt, Centrax is on the top while Sandy Park is on top of the squad number and Bradfords Building Supplies at the bottom. Emcas is also on the back. On the shorts, SW Comms (which also appear on the centre and the top left on the front of the shirt) is on the bottom left of the front shorts while on the back shorts, Frobishers Juices is at the top while Otter Brewery is on the bottom left.[citation needed]

Logo issue

Chiefs logo from when they turned semi-professional in 1999 until 2022

In 1999, Exeter Rugby Club turned semi-professional and changed their name to Exeter Chiefs, adopting a logo of a man in a headdress.[8] The team had previously been referred to as the Chiefs in the 1930s,[24] and Exeter rugby sides have done so as far back as 1908.[25] In 2016, the club's fans were called upon to change their behaviour over concerns that it could be considered an offensive appropriation of Native American culture.[26]

In July 2020, a group set up by Exeter Chiefs supporters called for the club's "racist use of Native American imagery and branding" to be dropped, comparing the use of the headdresses and chanting the tomahawk chop to blackface. A petition gained more than 550 signatures in a week, with Exeter's Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, also publicly backing the move.[27] By Wednesday 8 July the petition had grown to 2,000 signatures and the debate about whether a re-brand was needed gained widespread attention.[28][29][30] By 29 July the petition had gained 3,700 signatures and the issue was considered by the Exeter Board of Directors, they decided their branding was "highly respectful" but nonetheless retired their mascot Big Chief which "could be regarded as disrespectful". This decision was called "tone deaf" by the petitioners and considered controversial in the wider press.[31][32]

In October 2021, fellow Premiership club Wasps called on the RFU and Premiership Rugby to rule on the acceptability of Exeter fans wearing Native American-style headdresses and discouraged the visiting Exeter fans from wearing them, though they stopped short of a ban.[33] In November 2021 the National Congress of American Indians published an open letter calling for Exeter to drop their logo, the use of headdresses and venue names such as the 'Wigwam Bar', and that the continued use of such things perpetuated "dehumanising stereotypes".[34] In response to this, the club stated that this issue would be addressed in the November AGM, and a decision made by the board of directors in the following weeks.[35]

On 27 January 2022 it was announced that the club would be dropping the Native American branding in July 2022. The club now use imagery depicting the Iron Age tribe, the Dumnonii.[36]

Season summaries

Premiership Domestic Cup European Cup
Season Competition Final Position Points Play-Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance
1987–88 Courage League Division 3 9th 8 N/A John Player Cup N/A No competition N/A
1988–89 Courage League Division 3 9th 8 Pilkington Cup 3rd round
1989–90 Courage League Division 3 6th 11 Pilkington Cup 4th round
1990–91 Courage League Division 3 4th 16 Pilkington Cup 3rd round
1991–92 Courage League Division 3 4th 18 Pilkington Cup 2nd round
1992–93 Courage League Division 3 3rd 17 Pilkington Cup Quarter-final
1993–94 Courage League Division 3 6th 19 Pilkington Cup 2nd round
1994–95 Courage League Division 3 10th (R) 7 Pilkington Cup Quarter-final
1995–96 Courage League Division 4 1st (P) 28 Pilkington Cup 4th round No English teams N/A
1996–97 Courage League Division 3 1st (P) 50 Pilkington Cup 3rd round Not qualified N/A
1997–98 Allied Dunbar Premiership 2 11th 12 Tetley's Bitter Cup 4th round Not qualified N/A
C&G Cup 4th in pool
1998–99 Allied Dunbar Premiership 2 5th 29 Tetley's Bitter Cup 5th round No English teams N/A
C&G Cup 2nd round
1999–00 Allied Dunbar Premiership 2 4th 38 Tetley's Bitter Cup 4th round Not qualified N/A
2000–01 National Division 1 3rd 71 Tetley's Bitter Cup 4th round Not qualified N/A
2001–02 National Division 1 3rd 92 Powergen Cup 6th round Not qualified N/A
Powergen Shield Runners-up
2002–03 National Division 1 3rd 104 Powergen Cup 6th round Not qualified N/A
Powergen Shield Runners-up
2003–04 National Division 1 6th 74 Powergen Cup 4th round Not qualified N/A
2004–05 National Division 1 2nd 101 Powergen Cup 5th round Not qualified N/A
2005–06 National Division 1 6th 71 EDF Energy Trophy Semi-final Not qualified N/A
2006–07 National Division 1 4th 101 EDF Energy Trophy Runners-up Not qualified N/A
2007–08 National Division 1 2nd 116 EDF Energy Trophy Runners-up Not qualified N/A
2008–09 National Division 1 2nd 119 EDF Energy Trophy Semi-final Not qualified N/A
2009–10 RFU Championship 2nd (P) 88 Champions British and Irish Cup 4th in pool Not qualified N/A
2010–11 Aviva Premiership 8th 43 - LV= Cup 4th in pool Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2011–12 Aviva Premiership 5th 59 - LV= Cup 2nd in pool Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2012–13 Aviva Premiership 6th 59 - LV= Cup 2nd in pool Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2013–14 Aviva Premiership 8th 45 - LV= Cup Champions Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2014–15 Aviva Premiership 5th 68 - LV= Cup Runners-up Challenge Cup Semi-final
2015–16 Aviva Premiership 2nd 74 Runners-up No competition N/A Champions Cup Quarter-final
2016–17 Aviva Premiership 2nd 84 Champions Anglo-Welsh Cup Runners-up Champions Cup 3rd in pool
2017–18 Aviva Premiership 1st 85 Runners-up Anglo-Welsh Cup Champions Champions Cup 2nd in pool
2018–19 Gallagher Premiership 1st 86 Runners-up Premiership Cup 2nd in pool Champions Cup 2nd in pool
2019–20 Gallagher Premiership 1st 74 Champions Premiership Cup Semi-final Champions Cup Champions
2020–21 Gallagher Premiership 2nd 82 Runners-up Premiership Cup no competition Champions Cup Quarter-finals
2021-22 Gallagher Premiership 7th 69 - Premiership Cup 3rd in pool Champions Cup Round of 16
2022-23 Gallagher Premiership 7th 48 - Premiership Cup Champions Champions Cup Semi-final

Gold background denotes champions
Silver background denotes runners-up
Pink background denotes relegated

Club honours

Exeter Chiefs

Exeter Braves

Current squad

For player movements before or during the 2023–24 season, see List of 2023–24 Premiership Rugby transfers § Exeter Chiefs.

The Exeter Chiefs squad for the 2023–24 season is:[37] [38]

Note: Flags indicate national union under World Rugby eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-World Rugby nationality.

Player Position Union
Dan Frost Hooker England England
Iestyn Harris Hooker Wales Wales
Jack Innard Hooker England England
Max Norey Hooker England England
Jack Yeandle Hooker England England
Nika Abuladze Prop Georgia (country) Georgia
Alec Hepburn Prop Scotland Scotland
Josh Iosefa-Scott Prop New Zealand New Zealand
Matt Johnson Prop England England
Billy Keast Prop England England
Jacob Morris Prop England England
Ehren Painter Prop England England
Fin Richardson Prop England England
Patrick Schickerling Prop Namibia Namibia
Scott Sio Prop Australia Australia
Danny Southworth Prop England England
Marcus Street Prop England England
Jack Dunne Lock Ireland Ireland
Jonny Gray Lock Scotland Scotland
Dafydd Jenkins Lock Wales Wales
Eoin O'Connor Lock Ireland Ireland
Matt Postlethwaite Lock England England
Cory Teague Lock England England
Christ Tshiunza Lock Wales Wales
Rus Tuima Lock Fiji Fiji
Richard Capstick Back row England England
Hallam Chapman Back row England England
Aidon Davis Back row South Africa South Africa
Greg Fisilau Back row England England
Lewis Pearson Back row England England
Ethan Roots Back row England England
Jacques Vermeulen Back row South Africa South Africa
Ross Vintcent Back row Italy Italy
Player Position Union
Niall Armstrong Scrum-half England England
Tom Cairns Scrum-half England England
Sam Maunder Scrum-half England England
Joe Snow Scrum-half England England
Stu Townsend Scrum-half England England
Will Haydon-Wood Fly-half England England
Harvey Skinner Fly-half England England
Ollie Devoto Centre England England
Joe Hawkins Centre Wales Wales
Henry Slade Centre England England
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso Wing England England
Ben Hammersley Wing England England
Dan John Wing Wales Wales
Rory O'Loughlin Wing Ireland Ireland
Olly Woodburn Wing England England
Josh Hodge Fullback England England
Tom Wyatt Fullback England England

Academy squad

The Exeter Chiefs Academy squad is:[39] [40]

Note: Flags indicate national union under World Rugby eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-World Rugby nationality.

Player Position Union
Louie Gulley Hooker England England
Harry Hocking Hooker England England
Sol Moody Hooker England England
Elliott Young Hooker Scotland Scotland
Keita Ando Prop Scotland Scotland
Joe Bailey Lock England England
Oscar Beckerleg Lock England England
Alfie Bell Lock England England
Charlie Bell Back row England England
Lucas Dorrell Back row England England
Ben Grubb Back row England England
Kane James Back row Wales Wales
Finn Worley-Brady Back row England England
Player Position Union
Will Becconsall Scrum-half England England
Orson James Scrum-half Wales Wales
Iwan Jenkins Fly-half Wales Wales
Louie Sinclair Fly-half England England
Nick Alisson Centre South Africa South Africa
Toby Clinch Centre England England
Kian Gentry Centre England England
Charlie McCaig Centre England England
Chester Ribbons Centre England England
Campbell Ridl Centre England England
Jeremy Tuima Centre England England
Zack Wimbush Centre England England
Kofi Barton-Byfield Wing England England
Frankie Nowell Wing England England
Arthur Relton Wing England England
Tom Burton Fullback England England

Club staff

First Team Coaching[41]

Role Name
Director of Rugby England Rob Baxter
Team manager New Zealand Tony Walker
Head coach England Ali Hepher
Forwards coach England Rob Hunter
Defence coach Australia Julian Salvi
Skills coach England Ricky Pellow

Academy[41]

Role Name
Academy manager England Rob Gibson
Senior academy coach England Haydn Thomas

Notable former players

See also: Category:Exeter Chiefs players

Lions tourists

The following players have toured with the Lions while playing for Exeter:

Rugby World Cup

The following are players which have represented their countries at the Rugby World Cup, whilst playing for Exeter:

Tournament Players selected England players Other national team players
2003 3 - Richard Liddington United States, Siaosi Vaili, Opeta Palepoi Samoa
2011 3 - Gonzalo Camacho Argentina, Junior Poluleuligaga Samoa, Craig Mitchell Wales
2015 7 Geoff Parling, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade Tomas Francis Wales, Chrysander Botha Namibia, Elvis Taione Tonga, Michele Campagnaro Italy
2019 6 Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade Stuart Hogg Scotland, Nic White Australia, Tomas Francis Wales
2023 3 Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza Wales, Nika Abuladze Georgia (country)

Notes

Academy squad

References

  1. ^ "Contact". Exeter Chiefs F.C. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "130 Years of Rugby History". Proteus Media. Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  3. ^ Tobin, Christopher (2005). The Original All Blacks 1905–06. Auckland, New Zealand: Hodder Moa Beckett. p. 31. ISBN 1-86958-995-5.
  4. ^ Frank Keating (3 November 2010). "How the original All Blacks went down in the annals of history". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Exeter Chiefs". Scrumdown.org.uk. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  6. ^ Gibbins, Dave (25 May 2010). "Exeter Chiefs closing in on Premiership dream". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  7. ^ Tuckett, Phil (26 May 2010). "Bristol 10-29 Exeter (Exeter win 38-16 on aggregate)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  8. ^ a b Freshers' guide to: Exeter Chiefs. "Freshers' guide to: Exeter Chiefs". University of Exeter. Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Exeter Chiefs deducted two points and fined £5,000". BBC Sport. 27 April 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Exeter's hopes of European silverware are dashed". ITV. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  11. ^ "Heineken Cup 2012/13 - Points table". ESPN. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  12. ^ Osborne, Chris (16 March 2014). "LV= Cup final: Exeter Chiefs 15-8 Northampton Saints". BBC Sport. Retrieved 7 May 2014. In 2014–15 Exeter Chiefs finished 6th in the Aviva Premiership, reached the semi-finals of the European Challenge cup, losing at Gloucester, and reached the final of the LV Cup again, losing 22–20 to Saracens at Franklins Gardens.
  13. ^ "Aviva Premiership Table: 2015-16". Telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  14. ^ "Premiership semi-final: Exeter Chiefs 34-23 Wasps". BBC Sport. 21 May 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Premiership final: Saracens 28-20 Exeter Chiefs". BBC Sport. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Match report: Wasps vs Exeter". The Independent. 9 April 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  17. ^ "Match Report: Wasps 20 Exeter Chiefs 23 (AET)". Premiership Rugby. 27 May 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  18. ^ "Premiership final: Exeter Chiefs 10-27 Saracens". BBC. 26 May 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Mick Cleary's verdict: Double-winners Exeter Chiefs join elite club after show of heart, soul and muscle". The Telegraph. 24 October 2020. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  20. ^ "Chiefs reveal new visual identity". www.exeterchiefs.co.uk. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  21. ^ "History - Exeter Chiefs".
  22. ^ "Phase One works to begin at Sandy Park".
  23. ^ Pilnick, Brent (30 October 2012). "Exeter Chiefs granted permission for Sandy Park expansion". BBC Sport. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  24. ^ ""An Interview with Bob Staddon"". 3 September 2012.
  25. ^ Kitson, Robert (27 January 2022). "Exeter Chiefs replace Native-American branding with new Celtic logo". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  26. ^ Herrmann, Rachel (9 June 2016). ""Playing Indian": Exeter Rugby in a Postcolonial Age". Centre for Imperial and Global History, University of Exeter.
  27. ^ "Group Started by Exeter Chiefs supporters petition club to drop racist imagery". The Daily Telegraph. 1 July 2020. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  28. ^ "The branding debate that has split Exeter Chiefs fans". RugbyPass. 8 July 2020.
  29. ^ "Exeter Chiefs fans at odds over use of Native American branding". BBC Sport. 8 July 2020.
  30. ^ "Face-Off: Is Exeter Chiefs' branding appropriate?". Rugby World. 5 July 2020.
  31. ^ "Exeter to keep Chiefs name & logo, but retire 'Big Chief' mascot". BBC Sport. 29 July 2020.
  32. ^ "Exeter Chiefs controversially keep logo following branding review but retire mascot". Sky Sports. 29 July 2020.
  33. ^ "Premiership club Wasps ask rugby bosses for 'headdress' steer for Exeter Chiefs game". BBC Sport. 12 October 2021. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  34. ^ "Exeter Chiefs: National Congress of American Indians call on Premiership club to drop Native American branding". BBC Sport. 11 November 2021. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  35. ^ "Exeter Rugby Club Statement". www.exeterchiefs.co.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  36. ^ "Chiefs reveal new visual identity". www.exeterchiefs.co.uk. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  37. ^ "Exeter Chiefs Player List". Exeter Chiefs. 13 November 2023. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  38. ^ "Exeter squad for season 2023/2024". All Rugby. 13 November 2023. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  39. ^ "Exeter Chiefs Player List". Exeter Chiefs. 13 November 2023. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  40. ^ "Exeter squad for season 2023/2024". All Rugby. 13 November 2023. Retrieved 13 November 2023.
  41. ^ a b "Exeter Chiefs Coaching Staff". exetercheifs.co.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2019.

Further reading