When league rugby started, Exeter were initially placed in the Devon leagues. In the 1990s, Exeter Rugby Club turned semi-professional and changed their name from Exeter Rugby Club to Exeter Chiefs after previously being referred to as the Chiefs in the 1930s. Founded in 1871 Exeter Chiefs (officially Exeter Rugby Club) are an English rugby union club based in Exeter, Devon that currently play in the Aviva Premiership, the top level of domestic rugby union in England. They also compete in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and European Rugby Cup competitions.
Sandy Park is a rugby union stadium and award winning conference and banqueting centre in Exeter, England. It is the home ground of Exeter Chiefs who from the 2010/11 season have been playing in the Aviva Premiership, the top flight of the English rugby union league system. The club relocated there from their former stadium at the County Ground in 2006. The stadium can hold 12,500 spectators and is located adjacent to M5 junction 30 which is around 5 miles from Exeter City Centre.
Sandy Park is 1 of 13 venues that will stage the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The ground will host 3 pool matches including teams from Pool C and D. The games scheduled to be played at Sandy Park are Tonga vs Namibia, Namibia vs Georgia and Italy vs Romania.
The 2009/10 season turned out to be the best yet for Exeter with a record run of opening league game wins intercepted by a three-match dip during the Christmas period, followed by another collection of wins to put them in second place in the league. This left Exeter at the top of pool B for the play-off phase and four wins in this six-game stage gave them a home semi-final against Bedford Blues. Chiefs comfortably dispatched the Blues to set up a two-leg Championship final against Bristol Rugby.
The first leg saw a record Sandy Park crowd urge Chiefs on to a narrow 9-6 win. This three-point deficit was not seen as being enough to overcome Bristol in the second leg... but Chiefs' critics were wrong! A stunning performance silenced the Memorial Stadium regulars as Gareth Steenson kicked six penalties and two drop-goals, and Simon Alcott scored a last-minute try, to completely crush the favourites by 29 points to 10 to give an aggregate score of 38-16.
The 2010/11 season saw Exeter Chiefs play in the Aviva Premiership, Amlin Challenge Cup and LV= Cup for the very first time under the leadership of head coach Rob Baxter and skipper Tom Hayes.
It proved to be a memorable first year for the Chiefs in English rugby's top flight as they finished a creditable 8th in the standings, recording league victories over established names such as Saracens, Northampton Saints, London Wasps, Sale Sharks and, of course, a memorable opening day scalp in the shape of Gloucester.