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

Exeter Rugby
Exeter Chiefs logo.svg
Full nameExeter Rugby Club
Founded1871 (1871)
LocationExeter, Devon, England
Ground(s)Sandy Park (Capacity: 12,921)
ChairmanTony Rowe OBE
Director of RugbyRob Baxter
Captain(s)Jack Yeandle
League(s)Premiership Rugby
2017-181st (runners up)
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

The club was founded in 1871 and since 2006 plays 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. They were promoted to the Premiership for the first time in 2010. In the 2016–17 Premiership Rugby season Exeter became English Champions for the first time. In 2017-18 Exeter topped the regular season table but lost the Play-Off final; this entitled them to compete in the 2018-19 European Rugby Champions Cup. The current head coach is Rob Baxter who was appointed in March 2009.

Exeter are the only club to win the top four tiers of English rugby, winning the Premiership in 2017, RFU Championship in 2010, National League 1 in 1997 and National League 2 South in 1996. They have won the Anglo-Welsh Cup twice, most recently in 2018.



Early yearsEdit

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 eraEdit

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.[6] 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.[7] News outlets later reported that the club had been urged to change its name.[8] Often their teams at the time[ambiguous] were composed of members and former members of the British Army.[9][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.[10] 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 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 R.F.C. before facing Bristol in the two legged final.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] They also made their debut in the European Challenge Cup, making their way to the quarter finals where they lost to Stade Français.[14] In the next season, they finished fifth in the Premiership which permitted them to play in the Heineken Cup for the first time.[13] 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.[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 seasonEdit

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 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[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 kicked a last-minute conversion.[20]

2016/17 seasonEdit

Exeter Chiefs won the English 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. After extra time The chiefs landed their maiden Premiership title with another Gareth Steenson penalty 7 years after they won the Championship and promotion, where Gareth Steenson was once again pivotal.


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]

Club honoursEdit

Exeter Rugby international honoursEdit

Exeter Rugby notable playersEdit

Current squadEdit

The Exeter Chiefs squad for the 2018–19 season is:[27]

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
Paul Davis Hooker   England
Jack Innard Hooker   England
Elvis Taione Hooker   Tonga
Jack Yeandle Hooker   England
Tomas Francis Prop   Wales
Alec Hepburn Prop   England
Greg Holmes Prop   Australia
Billy Keast Prop   England
Moray Low Prop   Scotland
Ben Moon Prop   England
Jack Owlett Prop   Scotland
Marcus Street Prop   England
Harry Williams Prop   England
Ollie Atkins Lock   Scotland
Josh Caulfield Lock   England
Jonny Hill Lock   England
Mitch Lees Lock   Australia
Sean Lonsdale Lock   England
Toby Salmon Lock   England
Wilhelm van der Sluys Lock   South Africa
Don Armand Back row   England
Dave Dennis Back row   Australia
Dave Ewers Back row   England
James Freeman Back row   England
Matt Kvesic Back row   England
Tom Lawday Back row   England
Sam Simmonds Back row   England
Sam Skinner Back row   Scotland
Charlie Wright Back row   England
Player Position Union
Jack Maunder Scrum-half   England
Stu Townsend Scrum-half   England
Nic White Scrum-half   Australia
Joe Simmonds Fly-half   England
Harvey Skinner Fly-half   England
Henry Slade Fly-half   England
Gareth Steenson Fly-half   Ireland
Max Bodilly Centre   England
Ollie Devoto Centre   England
Tom Hendrickson Centre   New Zealand
Sam Hill Centre   England
Pete Laverick Centre   England
Ian Whitten Centre   Ireland
Santiago Cordero Wing   Argentina
Tom O'Flaherty Wing   England
Alex Cuthbert Wing   Wales
James Short Wing   England
Harry Strong Wing   England
Olly Woodburn Wing   England
Phil Dollman Fullback   Wales
Jack Nowell Fullback   England

Current coachesEdit

The coaching group is headed by Rob Baxter, director of rugby, with Ali Hepher as head coach.[28]

Current kitEdit

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 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. "How the original All Blacks went down in the annals of history". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  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 6 May 2014.
  6. ^ ""An Interview with Bob Staddon"". 3 September 2012.
  7. ^ Exeter, CIGH (9 June 2016). ""Playing Indian": Exeter Rugby in a Postcolonial Age".
  8. ^ "Exeter Chiefs urged to change 'offensive' name by Native American expert". BBC News. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  9. ^ Barrie Fairall (26 February 1993). "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 7 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Exeter Chiefs". 29 April 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  11. ^ Gibbins, Dave (25 May 2010). "Exeter Chiefs closing in on Premiership dream". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  12. ^ Tuckett, Phil (26 May 2010). "Bristol 10-29 Exeter (Exeter win 38-16 on aggregate)". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  13. ^ a b "Exeter Chiefs deducted two points and fined £5,000". BBC Sport. 27 April 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  14. ^ "Exeter's hopes of European silverware are dashed". ITV. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  15. ^ "Heineken Cup 2012/13 - Points table". ESPN. Retrieved 7 May 2014.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "Aviva Premiership Table: 2015-16". Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  18. ^ "Premiership semi-final: Exeter Chiefs 34-23 Wasps". BBC Sport. 21 May 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  19. ^ "Premiership final: Saracens 28-20 Exeter Chiefs". BBC Sport. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  20. ^ "Match report: Wasps vs Exeter". The Independent. 9 April 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  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. ^ "Hampshire Rugby".
  25. ^ "Hampshire Rugby".
  26. ^ a b "DRFU Handbook 2011-12" (PDF). Devon RFU. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  27. ^ "Exeter Chiefs Player List". Exeter Chiefs. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  28. ^

Further readingEdit

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

External linksEdit