Exeter Chiefs

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Exeter Rugby
Exeter Chiefs logo.svg
Full name Exeter Rugby Club
Founded 1871; 146 years ago (1871)
Location Exeter, Devon, England
Ground(s) Sandy Park (Capacity: 12,600)
Chairman Tony Rowe OBE
Coach(es) Rob Baxter
Captain(s) Jack Yeandle
League(s) English Premiership
2015–16 2nd
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Exeter Chiefs (officially Exeter Rugby Club or Exeter Rugby) are an English rugby union club based in Exeter, Devon[1] that currently play in the English Premiership, the top level of domestic rugby union in England. They also compete in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and European Rugby Cup competitions.


Early years[edit]

Exeter Rugby Club was founded in 1871. The club played its first match in 1873 against St. Luke's College. In 1890, they won the Devon Cup.[2] In 1905, Exeter Rugby Club hosted the first match played by the New Zealand national rugby union team on English soil and in the Northern Hemisphere at the County Ground between New Zealand and the 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.

Professional era[edit]

In the 1990s, Exeter Rugby Club turned semi-professional and changed their name from Exeter Rugby Club to Exeter Chiefs in 1999[5] after previously being referred to as the Chiefs in the 1930s.[citation needed] In 2016, the club's fans were called upon to change their behavior over concerns that it could be considered an offensive appropriation of Native American culture.[6] News outlets later reported that the club had been urged to change its name.[7] Often their teams at the time[ambiguous] were composed of members and former members of the British Army.[8][not in citation given]

In 1993 and 1995, Exeter reached the quarter finals of the Pilkington Cup before being knocked out by English Premiership 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.[9] 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.


In 2009, National Division One was reorganized 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 R.F.C. before facing Bristol in the two legged final.[10] 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 very first time.[11]

In their first season in the Premiership, they finished eighth[5] 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.[12] They also made their debut in the European Challenge Cup, making their way to the quarter finals where they lost to Stade Français.[13] In the next season, they finished fifth in the Premiership which permitted them to play in the Heineken Cup for the first time.[12] 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.[14] Also in 2013, they, along with Saracens, were the only rugby club to hold a minutes silence before their game against London Irish to remember the death of former Prime Minister Baroness Thatcher.[15] 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.[16]

2015/16 season[edit]

In the 2015/16 season the Chiefs finished in Second place in the aviva premiership[17]entitling them to a home semi final in the aviva premiership which was played against Wasps. They won the match 34-23[18] thanks to two penalty tries, a try from Ian Whitten and a try from Dave Ewers as well as 2 penalties and 4 conversions from Gareth Steenson. This meant the Chiefs qualified to their first Aviva Premiership final on May 28th. They lost 28-20[19] 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.

The chiefs also reached the quarter final of the European Champions Cup. They were drawn away to Wasps in a tight game which they eventually lost 25-24 in the Ricoh Arena after Wasps' Jimmy Gopperth got a last minute conversion.[20]


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 was insufficient for growth. Despite concerns of 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 currently accommodate 12,600 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]

Club honours[edit]

Current squad[edit]

2016-17 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Luke Cowan-Dickie Hooker England England
Shaun Malton Hooker South Africa South Africa
Elvis Taione Hooker Tonga Tonga
Jack Yeandle Hooker England England
Tomas Francis Prop Wales Wales
Alec Hepburn Prop England England
Greg Holmes Prop Australia Australia
Moray Low Prop Scotland Scotland
Ben Moon Prop England England
Carl Rimmer Prop England England
Harry Williams Prop England England
Ollie Atkins Lock Scotland Scotland
Jonny Hill Lock England England
Mitch Lees Lock England England
Geoff Parling Lock England England
Damian Welch Lock England England
Dave Dennis Flanker Australia Australia
Tom Johnson Flanker England England
Julian Salvi Flanker Australia Australia
Ben White Flanker Australia Australia
Don Armand Flanker England England
Dave Ewers Number 8 England England
Kai Horstmann Number 8 England England
Thomas Waldrom Number 8 England England
Player Position Union
Will Chudley Scrum-half England England
Dave Lewis Scrum-half England England
Nikola Matawalu Scrum-half Fiji Fiji
Haydn Thomas Scrum-half England England
Will Hooley Fly-half England England
Henry Slade Fly-half England England
Gareth Steenson Fly-half Ireland Ireland
Michele Campagnaro Centre Italy Italy
Ollie Devoto Centre England England
Sam Hill Centre England England
Ian Whitten Centre Ireland Ireland
Jack Nowell Wing England England
Matt Jess Wing England England
James Short Wing England England
Olly Woodburn Wing England England
Max Bodilly Fullback England England
Phil Dollman Fullback Wales Wales
Lachlan Turner Fullback Australia Australia

Academy squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Paul Davis Hooker England England
Jack Innard Hooker England England
Billy Keast Prop England England
Jack Owlett Prop England England
Josh Caulfield Lock England England
Ed Holmes Lock England England
Sean Lonsdale Lock Wales Wales
Tom Lawday Flanker England England
Sam Simmonds Flanker England England
Sam Skinner Flanker England England
Player Position Union
Jack Maunder Scrum-half England England
Stuart Townsend Scrum-half England England
Joe Simmonds Fly-half England England
Tom Hendrickson Centre New Zealand New Zealand
Pete Laverick Centre England England
Harry Strong Centre England England
Harrison Cully Wing England England

Current kit[edit]

The kit is supplied by Samurai Rugby Gear. On the front of the shirt, SW Comms appear on the centre and the top left and Watson is on the top right. The Contact Hire Supermarket is on the right sleeve. On the back of the shirt, Centrax is on the top while Flybe is on top of the squad number and M.J. Baker at the bottom. 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 Juice is at the top while Otter Brewery is on the bottom left.


  1. ^ "Contact". Exeter Chiefs F.C. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "130 Years of Rugby History". Proteus Media. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  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. "How the original All Blacks went down in the annals of history". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  5. ^ a b Freshers’ guide to: Exeter Chiefs. "Freshers' guide to: Exeter Chiefs". University of Exeter. Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  6. ^ Exeter, CIGH (9 June 2016). ""Playing Indian": Exeter Rugby in a Postcolonial Age". 
  7. ^ "Exeter Chiefs urged to change 'offensive' name by Native American expert". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-08-06. 
  8. ^ Barrie Fairall (1993-02-26). "Eager Exeter take up arms: Two of rugby union's once-feared clubs are making their presence felt again: Barrie Fairall reports on the West Country team who are marching ahead under the command of a Regimental Sergeant Major". The Independent. Archived from the original on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  9. ^ "Exeter Chiefs". Scrumdown.org.uk. 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  10. ^ Gibbins, Dave (2010-05-25). "Exeter Chiefs closing in on Premiership dream". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  11. ^ Tuckett, Phil (2010-05-26). "Bristol 10-29 Exeter (Exeter win 38-16 on aggregate)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  12. ^ a b "Exeter Chiefs deducted two points and fined £5,000". BBC Sport. 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  13. ^ "Exeter's hopes of European silverware are dashed". ITV. Retrieved 2014-05-06. 
  14. ^ "Heineken Cup 2012/13 - Points table". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  15. ^ "Exeter Chiefs' Thatcher silence 'wrong decision'". BBC News. 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  16. ^ Osborne, Chris (2014-03-16). "LV= Cup final: Exeter Chiefs 15-8 Northampton Saints". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2014-05-07.  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.
  17. ^ "Aviva Premiership Table: 2015-16". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  18. ^ "Premiership semi-final: Exeter Chiefs 34-23 Wasps". BBC Sport. 2016-05-21. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  19. ^ "Premiership final: Saracens 28-20 Exeter Chiefs". BBC Sport. 2016-05-28. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  20. ^ "Match report: Wasps vs Exeter". The Independent. 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2017-02-20. 
  21. ^ "History - Exeter Chiefs". 
  22. ^ "Phase One works to begin at Sandy Park". 
  23. ^ Pilnick, Brent (2012-10-30). "Exeter Chiefs granted permission for Sandy Park expansion". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2014-05-07. 
  24. ^ "Hampshire Rugby". 
  25. ^ "Hampshire Rugby". 
  26. ^ a b "DRFU Handbook 2011-12" (PDF). Devon RFU. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Clark, Neil (2012). It Was Never My Ambition To Become A Hooker. Chequered Flag Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9569460-2-7. 

External links[edit]