The Chiefs are being put through their paces in pre-season training.

University a home from home for Exeter Chiefs

By Mark Stevens
Rob Baxter believes Exeter Chiefs’ temporary training base at the University of Exeter is working really well as the players go through pre-season training.

With Sandy Park currently a building site as contractors extend the capacity and lay a new pitch, the players and coaching staff are doing pre-season training elsewhere.

And head coach Baxter thinks the facilities are up to Premiership standard as the Chiefs prepare for their fifth campaign in the top flight.

“It’s really working out very well, the boys are enjoying it,” he said. “It’s created a very concentrated rugby environment with very few distractions.

“You can only judge things by what you see and what the players are saying and all the players I’ve spoken to are saying they like the facilities. We’ve got a big gym and the pitch is nice.

“To be fair to (chief executive) Tony Rowe, he’s helped us set this up and get a facility in place that’s Premiership standard. It feels like that, everything is top-quality standard.”

After a team-bonding trip to Spain, the players started training at the university complex last Monday.

Baxter said they have quickly made it a home from home, with everything on side they could wish for.

“We said in our first meeting that none of us will know how it works so there’s going to be a large element of getting on with it and not looking for problems,” he said.

“The players have had a look around and they’re training here now.

“The food situation is very good, with breakfast and lunch catered for.

“Other than swimming, the boys are turning up and can do everything here – meetings, gym, field sessions, all our analysis. Everything is as good as it needs to be.”

The players had a break from their surroundings at the university on Tuesday afternoon as they headed to Exmouth beach for the now traditional sessions on the sand.

The squad included new signings Adam Hughes and Elvis Taione, who joined up with their new colleagues for the first time this week.

Sam Hill, Henry Slade and Dave Ewers also started pre-season training this week, after being given a bit of time off as they played for England against the Barbarians last month.

“The guys who had a late finish to the season are back in, so Henry Slade, Dave Ewers and Sam Hill are back with us now,” said Baxter.

“Adam Hughes is here and Elvis Taione is training now so we’ve got a few more numbers this week.

“Henry, Dave and Sam were in wandering around and doing some weights last week – we’ve had to keep them on the leash and stop them joining in.

“Those young lads are more keen to be in here and be with their mates than they are being away, so it’s been nice to see them around.”

The University of Exeter and the Exeter Chiefs have a history of working together. Many current and former student players have competed for the Aviva Premiership club.

University Director of Rugby Keith Fleming said: “We are delighted to be able to help the Chiefs during their pre-season preparation. We’ve always held a close relationship with the club, which has created some excellent rugby players and benefitted both clubs.”

Date: 3 July 2014