Statement: Exeter Chiefs have confirmed their full list of departures - Ruck

Statement: Exeter Chiefs have confirmed their full list of departures

Exeter Chiefs have confirmed a leavers list at the end of the 2023/24 season.

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Announcements have been made in recent weeks of players who have been forced to retire through injury and the departure of club stalwarts Alec Hepburn and Ollie Devoto.

Discussing those who have stepped through the doors of Sandy Park for a final time as a Chiefs player, Director of Rugby Rob Baxter thanked all players for their contributions to the squad.

“I’d like to thank all the players for being a part of the journey with our squad and for being in the Chiefs Family. They were all good teammates to have in our environment and we wish them all the very best in the future.”

Joining Devoto and Hepburn in saying goodbye are Scottish international Jonny Gray and decade-long servant of the club, Tom Hendrickson – both of whom announced their departures during the regular season.

Rory O’Loughlin, Matt Postlethwaite and Iestyn Harris all faced the unfortunate situation of a career ended by injury.

Aidon Davis returns to South African shores to re-join Toyota Cheetahs with Georgian international Nika Abuladze also departing following his debut Chiefs season.

Matt Richardson and Patrick Schickerling will be teammates once more having both confirmed a move to Glasgow Warriors while Danny Southworth and Oli Burrows both head to Wales to feature in the United Rugby Championship next season.

Corey Teague, Harry Hocking and James Kenny have confirmed themselves as RFU Championship players next season – with Doncaster Knights, Cornish Pirates and Ealing Trailfinders – as Frankie Nowell and Joe Snow have made the move to Australia for game-time in the Schute Shield.

In the younger ranks, the leavers include Arthur Relton, Toby Clinch, Jacob Morris, Jeremy Tuima, and Ben Grubb.

The club would like to thank all of our departing players for their contributions to Chiefs and we wish them all the best for the future.

Nigel Owens Reveals the Top 5 Rugby Stadiums with the Best Atmosphere

Legendary referee Nigel Owens has handpicked three stadiums where he experienced the most electrifying atmospheres during his career, surprisingly omitting his beloved Principality Stadium in Cardiff from the list.

However, Owens prefaced his ranking with an explanation:

“It doesn’t really matter what game is taking place at the Principality Stadium, there is just something special about it. It’s the way it’s built, where it is, the atmosphere that those factors combine to generate.

“Judgement Day is great, European Cup matches there are the same and obviously top internationals are on another level. To me, that is the best stadium in the world but I will leave that out of my selections below because I am, of course, Welsh and maybe a little biased!”

Explore his entire top five below

#5. Stade de France, Paris

The first of the international grounds on our list of the best stadiums in world rugby, the atmosphere in Stade de France mirrors their national team: boisterous and joyful when on the front foot, but quiet and frail when behind.

Owens wrote: “When you’re inside the Stade de France it’s an incredible stadium.

“The atmosphere is up there with the best and I absolutely loved refereeing there but the actual location of the stadium is not the best, there isn’t a lot going on around it, it’s the total opposite to Cardiff in many ways.”

He added: “I did the 2018 game here when Johnny Sexton kicked a 45 metre drop goal after 46 phases to win the match and set Ireland on their way to a Grand Slam that year. France had scored the only try of the match to take the lead in the 72nd minute and the crowd were going crazy, it was so loud and La Marseillaise was being sung.

“But Ireland were just relentless in that closing passage leading to the drop goal. People talk about the pressure on Sexton, well they want to know what it’s like refereeing at that stage of a match! You know any decision you make is probably going to decide the outcome. You can’t afford to get it wrong.

“But that stadium is absolutely rocking when France are hitting their straps. A special place to referee.”

#4. Thomond Park, Limerick

Owens wrote: “For me, few things beat Thomond Park on a European Cup weekend. That is an experience that should be on every rugby fan’s bucket list. When there are 28,000 in there for games against the likes of Toulouse, Leicester or Clermont – all of which I’ve refereed there – then it doesn’t half take some beating.”

He added: “Refereeing Leinster v Munster in Dublin was one thing, but refereeing the same fixture at Thomond Park is something else entirely. It was a very difficult game to referee because of the intensity of the crowd and the players responding to that.

“When you are in that stadium and all those thousands of supporters are singing Fields of Athenry, it really is breathtaking.”

Credit: Karmacomatic