CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Devon Life today CLICK HERE

Heather Fell: Hail to the Chiefs

PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 January 2014

The big kick-off comes to Exeter's Sandy Park on 29 September, 2015

The big kick-off comes to Exeter's Sandy Park on 29 September, 2015

Archant

Modern pentathlete and Olympic silver medallist HEATHER FELL shares her love of rugby’s sportsmanship and professionalism

I could not hold off much longer, I need to share my love of rugby. This is a sport that I can not pretend to have any experience of playing, unless I can count touch rugby for one term at school.

I should probably also confess that until recently I was not a massive fan of spectating either. This was nothing against rugby but more due to the fact that I prefer to do rather than watch when it comes to sport.

However as I have matured I have been drawn more into this sport for many reasons, the initial one maybe only the female reader will understand, but far more importantly I enjoy the game for its fine example of sportsmanship and professionalism.

I will try not to harp on about the wonderful part of the world we live in, I am pretty sure I would be preaching to the converted, yet every month with each new sport I realise just how much we have going for us in Devon.

Rugby really is no exception and a lot of that is due to the recent rise of the Exeter Chiefs into the premiership. I still find it hard to believe that since winning the Championship play offs as the underdogs four seasons ago the club have gone from strength to strength and proved many critics wrong as they continue to cement themselves among the long established top flight clubs.

A few years ago when the construction of Sandy Park, the new home of Exeter Chiefs, was being built I do remember thinking is this really necessary, will enough people really come to a home game? I was soon to be proven wrong and it seems that the wonderful facility has been widely recognised. There was the exciting announcement that Sandy Park will host some of the 2015 World Cup matches and more recently we heard that the LV cup final this season will be played there. It is no surprise then that the club has just scooped an award for rugby venue of the year, the view from the Grandstand out over Dartmoor should win that alone.

It could appear that Exeter Chiefs have the money that is now always a prerequisite to competing in the top level professional sport and that is the sole reason that they have managed to remain in the Premiership. As much as finances do play a big part in sport, at the end of the day it is about the talent and most importantly the team bond. As an athlete I experienced the sheer importance of a team around me, it was the strong local support that really made the difference, this is demonstrated clearly by the Devon club and their set up.

Exeter Chiefs have been led up through by coach Rob Baxter who demonstrates the importance of community and continuity. He has also ensured it continues through to the players with the investment in the youth and academy sectors already paying off. Last summer saw the England juniors winning their World Cup with a team consisting of five Chiefs players. I spoke to Henry Slade from that victorious team who talked to me about the impact of having a Premiership team local to his home:

“It gave me the opportunity to be part of the academy set up whilst still at school which enabled me to balance my studies in Plymouth whilst training in Exeter. This opportunity has certainly played a large part in my rugby career so far and for so many of my team mates too. As a result of coming up through the system with many of the other guys there is a really great bond that makes a difference when playing together in matches.”

There are also numerous opportunities for children to get involved in this sport, whether through their local school, club or other organisations. Rugby demonstrates so many qualities needed in everyday life, this has been identified locally by the Chiefs who now run a comprehensive community programme across all of Devon and Cornwall.

If though like me you are past your prime rugby playing days then fear not as an afternoon out at the rugby, as long as you are adequately wrapped up, provides a wonderful combination of top level sport with the perfect excuse for a social opportunity.

0 comments

More from People

Friday, December 7, 2018

Devon Life received this heartfelt letter from Mr Michael Thompson, of Torbay, which is felt particularly poignant to share with our website audience at this time of year

Read more
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bursting with festive inspiration, KATE WILLIAMS seeks out the best presents for a perfect Devon Christmas

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Devon has had more than its fair share of high achievers over the years but how well do you know our county’s singers, authors, sportspeople, explorers and TV personalities? This is an edited version of a quiz compiled by MARGARET BRECKNELL in the December 2018 issue of Devon Life

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

PHILIP DALLING recalls two Exmoor legends who shared a deep love of the moor and its natural resources, and gained national fame through the media

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In the month when we mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, STEVE ROBERTS highlights the terrible cost in human lives it inflicted on the county of Devon

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Actor Tom Burke talks to JUDI SPIERS about his production of Don Carlos staged by his own theatre company Ara, in association with Exeter’s Northcott Theatre

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

In the latest in her series throughout 2018 profiling inspirational women, KATE HASKELL talks to England Women’s Cricket Captain, Heather Knight

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

There is more to Georgia Toffolo than an award-winning TV show, as HOLLY EELLS discovers

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

Striving to be the best in the world, homegrown Devon professional squash player Lyell Fuller is seeking sponsorship to help reach his goal. KATE WILLAMS finds out more

Read more
Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tavistock Rugby Club in Devon is celebrating after being awarded a grant of £2,500 to fund private showers for referees at their Sandy Park ground, as part of rural energy provider Calor’s annual funding scheme

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Devon’s Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, also known as The Black Farmer, tells KATE WILLIAMS about his new book, Jeopardy, encouraging the embracing of risk to enrich life

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

As five members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue Ashburton celebrate 125 years of collective volunteering, we look back on their time with the organisation

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

CAROLYN SEAGER reveals how long after her mother’s death she discovered her amazing career in the service of her country

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

An author known for her novels depicting life on the Channel Islands is nonetheless happiest writing from home here in Devon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search