Gallagher Premiership Rugby is just weeks away from beginning. Here at Last Word on Rugby, we’re turning the microscope on to all the major competing sides and focusing on Devon’s Exeter Chiefs.
The former Championship winning club was bested in the final playoff match. One that will be remembered for the sheer excitement and to-and-fro nature of the clash, yet Chiefs’ fans will wish that among the incoming and outgoing Exeter Chiefs Gallagher Premiership squad is still a team that is sure to challenge again for the 2021/22 title.
Exeter Chiefs Gallagher Premiership – 2021 biggest departure
Several Welsh players are amongst those heading for the exit. Tomas Francis, Alex Cuthbert and Corey Baldwin have all left Sandy Park. Of those Tomas Francis had the most games and impact during his Exeter Chiefs career.
Along with the Welsh contingent, six players are going out on loan to Greene King IPA Championship side Cornish Pirates. The relationship between these two teams is strong and loan deals are a regular occurrence. Locks Lewis Pearson and Cory Teague, props James Kenny, Patrick Schickerling and Alfie Petch and centre Tommy Wyatt all head to the Mennaye Field.
Veteran Tongan hooker Elvis Taione goes with his mate Francis to the Liberty Stadium. Taione’s deal with the Ospreys is for one year. They will both be joined by Cuthbert. Another leaving is Tom Price; an English born, but Welsh qualified lock. He has re-signed to the Scarlets from Gallagher Premiership Rugby’s Exeter Chiefs.
Key Signings for Exeter Chiefs Rugby 2021/22 season
Amongst the forwards, tighthead prop Sam Nixon arrives from Bayonne. Lock Ryan McCauley from Australia’s Western Force and tight head Josh Iosefa-Scott from Waikato. Rob Baxter is strengthening his squad in areas where he feels greater depth is required. This will create competition for places and provide cover for injuries.
In the backs Sean O’Brien, a centre, signs on the dotted line from Pro-14’s Connacht.
Meet the Chiefs’ 2021/22 Most valuable player
That being said, there are many other outstanding talents in the Exeter squad: Henry Slade, Stuart Hogg, Jonny Hill, Dave Ewers, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jack Nowell and Tom O’Flaherty to name just a few.
How will Exeter Rugby line up this season?
Many of the new signings have been brought in to bolster the squad. That coupled with Exeter’s strong season last year will mean the first fifteen won’t look drastically different. Following Francis’ departure expect some competition for the incumbent tight head prop position between stalwart Harry Williams and the new signings: Nixon and Iosefa-Scott.
McCauley has only signed a short term deal until December so we should see him get a chance to show his worth. As for the style Exeter will play, look for a mix of their strengths of pick and go, physicality, resolute defence and pace out wide. It will be interesting to see how Exeter, as well as the other Gallagher Premiership sides adapt to the new laws. Slade, Hogg and others may look to exploit the new 50:22 rule.
Exeter Chiefs Rugby 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership focus
Exeter Chiefs remain a strong unit but there will be plenty of competition at the top of the Gallagher Premiership table this season. The topsides are strengthening and improving all the time. They should challenge for honours but aren’t a nailed-on cert for silverware.
Underpinning what happens on the pitch is the important off-the-field stuff. Positively speaking, Sandy Park’s east stand is being expanded to include more fans. On the negative side, the controversy surrounding Exeter Chiefs branding and cultural appropriation rumbles on. Exeter Chief’s mascot, “Big Chief” was retired in 2020 but the name and logo were kept in what some saw as a fudge by the club’s board.
From a personal point of view, earlier this year some in rugby were considering throwing Henry Slade under the bus after his comments about Coronavirus and vaccination. Slade’s Telegraph interview said that he wouldn’t be taking the vaccine. After the resulting furore, Slade issued a statement.
In it, he stated that he suffers with Type 1 Diabetes and is very careful about his health and also vaccines. This hadn’t been in the interview published by the Telegraph. He went on to say that vaccination comes down to personal choice and that he wasn’t advocating what people should do. As a result of this, the storm died down.
This media outlet prefers to stick to facts, so comments from staff and management must be reconciled with their views and from the official stance of the organization. So holding on to one man’s point of view is unhealthy. We only wish to broadcast the whole group’s interests. So, with that aside, fans should believe that just ‘opinion’ says that again, the club besides the sea should be considered Championship-winning material…..provided they maintain their place as a fearful host.
Hopefully, removing some of the ‘colourful wardrobe’ does not impact the support base too badly, for the Exeter Chiefs Premiership Rugby club.
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