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Newly capped Scotland prop Alec Hepburn agrees URC switch

By Josh Raisey
Alec Hepburn runs with the ball during the Scotland Captain's Run ahead of the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match against England at BT Murrayfield Stadium on February 23, 2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Scotland loosehead prop Alec Hepburn will bring his time at Exeter Chiefs to a close at the end of the season after agreeing to join United Rugby Championship outfit Scarlets, as reported by RugbyPass.

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The 31-year-old joined the Chiefs in January 2015 and has gone on to make 179 appearances for the club, winning two Gallagher Premiership titles and an Investec Champions Cup in that time.

The Australian-born prop is a dual international, having represented both England and Scotland. He qualified for England through residency after moving to the country at the age of 13, and earned six caps under Eddie Jones in 2018.

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Hepburn was able to switch allegiance to Scotland this year through his Scottish-born father, and made his debut during the Guinness Six Nations.

He said to Exeter after his departure was announced: “My way of dealing with the prospect of leaving is by looking forward – the front windscreen is bigger than the rearview mirror. And because, if I do look back, it’ll probably make me a bit emotional.

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“Being a Chief has been amazing. I can’t believe I was here at 21 and I’m getting ready to leave at 31. It’s all gone very quickly.

“Running out at Sandy Park is very special, very unique. A lot of teams around the country don’t have the same support that we do. Exeter’s just a brilliant community where you feel that the team is at the forefront of what is good.

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“It’s hard to summarise but I’ve always thought being a Chief meant playing with a lot of heart, a lot of passion, and to play for each other. I’d like to thank Exeter Chiefs and all the supporters – it’s been an amazing ride. To say it’s been a huge part of my life is an understatement, so thank you.”

Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter added: “Alec is moving on now to another stage of his career.

“He’s already started that new phase with being capped for Scotland and now moving on to Scarlets. I think it’s a good signing for them, as he brings with him a wealth of experience in the Premiership and the Champions Cup as well as internationally.

“He’s been a key part of some of the best years we’ve had at the club, including multiple top two finishes in the Premiership, a couple of Premiership titles as well as Premiership Cup and obviously the double year was a real highlight.”

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Hepburn’s head coach next season Dwayne Peel said: “We are delighted to sign a player with the reputation of Alec, who has been a big part of Exeter’s success story in recent years.

“He is an international forward who brings a huge amount of experience at club level and someone who will strengthen our front-row resources and help develop an exciting young group of Welsh prop forwards coming through at the club.

“He has a reputation as a strong scrummager and dynamic carrier and we feel he will fit in well with the way we are looking to play the game.”

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