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Exeter statement: Tony Rowe and the alleged 'fading dynasty'

By Liam Heagney
Exeter's Henry Slade celebrates (Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Exeter have issued a statement calling out critics who alleged this time last year that the Chiefs were a fading dynasty. The 2020 Gallagher Premiership and European Cup double winners endured an underwhelming 2022/23 campaign, finishing seventh in the league.

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They also lost long-established stars such as the Simmonds brothers, Jack Nowell, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Harry Williams and Dave Ewers to rival clubs abroad and in England.

However, they have bounced back this season and are currently just one point off the play-off positions in the league. They have also reached the last 16 in Europe where they will host Bath in early April while 10 players have recently played international rugby in the Guinness Six Nations or with England A.

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Joe Simmonds on his headspace at Exeter

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Joe Simmonds on his headspace at Exeter

This upturn in fortunes has now resulted in Exeter circulating a media statement titled: Tony Rowe issues warning to doubters.

Its content read: “Exeter chairman and CEO Tony Rowe condemns those who doubted the Chiefs as they once again prove that they have what it takes to challenge for glory in the Gallagher Premiership and Investec Champions Cup.

Gallagher Premiership

P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Northampton
12
9
3
0
44
2
Harlequins
12
7
5
0
37
3
Bath
12
7
5
0
37
4
Saracens
12
7
5
0
36
5
Exeter Chiefs
12
7
5
0
35
6
Leicester
12
7
5
0
33
7
Sale
12
7
5
0
32
8
Bristol
12
6
6
0
30
9
Gloucester
12
3
9
0
22
10
Newcastle
12
0
12
0
4

“Barely 12 months on from being written off as a fading dynasty with a host of front-line names announcing their departures, Exeter now have 10 players thriving on the international stage.

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“Roll the clock back to nearly a year ago: in March 2023 speculation was rife on how Chiefs could recover from the perceived blow of front-line talismans like Sam Simmonds, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Simmonds, Harry Williams and Dave Ewers departing Exeter at the end of the season.

“This resulted in many writing the Chiefs off. However, the cogs were in motion to build a new team of talented individuals. By bidding farewell to players nearing the ends of their careers or choosing to retire, Exeter were ushering in the exciting prospect of new recruits and home-grown talent.

“Alongside the talent fostered by the Exeter Chiefs academy and the links with the University of Exeter, Rob Baxter’s recruitment was integral to the challenge of building a competitive team for the 2023/24 season.

“To date, Chiefs have secured seven wins in the Premiership with a play-off spot still on the cards. There was also a semi-final appearance in the Prem Cup, with a last-16 appearance in the Investec Champions Cup still to come at Sandy Park.

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“Impressive performances in all competitions meant the Chiefs men began to catch the eyes of international coaches. The result is a total of six Chiefs named in Guinness Six Nations camps – Henry Slade, Ethan Roots and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso for England; Dafydd Jenkins as captain of Wales; Alec Hepburn for Scotland and Ross Vintcent called up to Italy.

“Slade, the lasting fan-favourite, has enjoyed a resurgence amongst his eager Chiefs teammates, while barnstorming Roots and hot-footed Feyi-Waboso both caught Steve Borthwick’s eyes as talents for the future of English rugby.

“Jenkins, emerging as a quiet, lead-by-example captain in Chiefs colours, was handed the honour by Warren Gatland to become the second youngest Welsh captain in history. Hepburn’s Scottish eligibility inspired Gregor Townsend, who called upon the Aussie-born prop to bolster his thistle ranks.

“Vintcent, surpassing all personal goals already this season with appearances in the Premiership and Champions Cup, muscled his way into Gonzalo Quesada’s Italian plans through sheer hard work.

“In addition, exciting full-back Josh Hodge, hard-carrying back-rower Greg Fisilau, exuberant lock Rusi Tuima and tough tighthead prop Josh Iosefa-Scott were all called upon by Borthwick to test themselves in the England A squad with a keen eye on their possible England first-team futures.

“The wealth of knowledge players will accumulate in their country squads will be filtered back into Baxter’s young squad, inspiring teammates to realise with grit and determination, it could be a chance available to them as well.

“The season is not yet complete so, with knockout rugby and a tough Premiership campaign to complete, there are still opportunities for other talented individuals in the squad to shine.

“This young squad has maintained the remarkable record that Exeter hold at fortress Sandy Park, and with record attendances and season ticket sales for the 2024/25 season already surpassing 3,000, the fans are flocking to see them in action.

“Tony Rowe, who has overseen the club through its journey from the National Leagues to the pinnacle of European rugby, is right to remind the sporting world that they should think twice before they write off the Exeter Chiefs.”

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Poorfour 11 hours ago
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