Exeter Chiefs’ star-studded Ultimate XV, including ‘golden generation’ academy products and Premiership legends

Louis Chapman Coombe
Exeter Chiefs legends Jack Nowell, Gareth Steenson and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

The meteoric rise of the Exeter Chiefs has been one of rugby’s biggest success stories.

Exeter were a sleeping giant during the early 2000s; however, following their promotion to the Premiership in 2010, they have become one of the most decorated teams in the English game.

Just seven years on from their promotion to the top flight, Rob Baxter’s men were crowned Premiership champions, and three years after that, they lifted a historic double as they won both the Premiership and the Champions Cup.

They have also been blessed with some of the best players of the modern era, but who would make it into an ultimate Exeter Chiefs XV?

Here is our best bet at what that could look like.

15 Phil Dollman

Welshman Dollman kicks off our greatest Exeter XV of all-time.

The versatile back joined the club in 2009 and went on to register 242 appearances before hanging up his boots in 2020. During his 11-year stint at the Chiefs, Dollman also helped the club win two Premiership titles, two Premiership Cups, one Champions Cup and one Championship title.

His form during their charge to the 2017 title was also rewarded with a call-up to the Wales squad that summer; however, an injury in the final denied him the chance to win his first international cap.

Honourable mention: Stuart Hogg

14 Jack Nowell

The first member of the club’s ‘golden generation’ in our squad slots in on the wing.

Nowell made his debut for Exeter in 2012 and made 173 appearances in total for the club. The winger also helped the club win two Premiership titles, three Premiership Cups and one Champions Cup.

Nowell was also thrust into the test arena in 2014, and he won 46 England caps in total. He also became the first ever Exeter Chiefs player to be called up for the British and Irish Lions, as he was part of their 2017 tour to New Zealand, featuring twice off the bench against the All Blacks.

Honourable mention: Tom O’Flaherty

13 Henry Slade

The only player still at Exeter in our XV and the second from the ‘golden generation’. Slade made his debut for the Chiefs back in 2012 against London Welsh and has been the heartbeat of the side ever since.

He has amassed 224 appearances to date, and with his new contract taking him into a 13th season, he will certainly add to this already impressive haul.

Slade has also established himself on the international stage, winning 62 caps at the time of writing and has featured at two Rugby World Cups.

Honourable mention: Sireli Naqelevuki

12 Ian Whitten

The ever-consistent Whitten slots in at 12 for our team, but he was deployed all across the backline during his 11-year spell at Sandy Park.

The versatile back racked up a staggering 280 appearances for Exeter, and helped the club win two Premiership titles, three Premiership Cups and one Champions Cup.

Honourable mention: Ollie Devoto

11 Matt Jess

Another one of the promotion heroes, Jess was a stalwart for Exeter throughout his nine-year spell. He joined the Chiefs from Launceston in 2008 and went onto play 144 times for the club.

Jess was an integral part of the squad that won promotion to the Premiership in 2010, and also lifted one Premiership Cup and one Premiership title with Exeter.

Honourable mention: Santi Cordero

10 Gareth Steenson

Who else could occupy this spot? The adopted Devonian joined Exeter from Ulster in 2010 and became an icon of the club. He was made to fight for his starting shirt, but when he took it over, he really made it his own.

The iconic fly-half was also influential in two of the club’s most historic victories. He grabbed a 24-point haul in the decisive play-off second-leg in 2010 to confirm promotion, and his late penalty in extra-time also helped Exeter win the Premiership final in 2017.

Steenson registered 311 appearances for the club during his career and will be remembered as one of the greatest players the club has ever had.

Honourable mention: Joe Simmonds

9 Nic White

Australian scrum-half White moved to the South West in 2017, and quickly won over the fan base. He narrowly missed out on both of Exeter’s Premiership titles to date, joining after 2017 and leaving just before the 2020 double; however, White was still at the forefront of Chiefs’ most dominant period in the league.

White made 61 appearances in total for the Chiefs, but he made a huge impression in his short spell.

Honourable mention: Haydn Thomas

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8 Richard Baxter

Chiefs legend Baxter gets the nod in the pack as the number eight holds the record for most appearances for the club with an astonishing 431 to his name.

He made his debut for the club in 1997 against Fylde and was a core part of the promotion-winning team in 2010. He hung up his boots in 2013.

Honourable mention: Thomas Waldrom

7 Sam Simmonds

Sliding across into the number seven shirt is Simmonds. The powerful back-rower made his debut for the club in 2012; however, he had to wait five more years to play in his first Premiership game against Wasps in 2017.

Simmonds went onto make 131 appearances for the club, and won two Premiership titles, two Premiership Cups and one Champions Cup.

His form for the Chiefs was never fully rewarded on the international stage, however he did win 16 caps for England and also represented the British and Irish Lions in 2021.

Honourable mention: James Scaysbrook

6 Dave Ewers

Imposing back-rower Ewers is another one of the ‘golden generation’ of academy graduates to make our list.

Ewers made his first team debut in 2010 and became an ever-present in the side. In his 13-year stint with the club, he made a whopping 236 appearances and helped win two Premiership titles, two Premiership Cups, and one Champions Cup.

Ewers never won an England cap; however, he did feature in a non-capped game against the Barbarians in 2014 and also played for England Saxons.

Honourable mention: Tom Johnson

5 Tommy Hayes

Former club captain Hayes joined the Chiefs from rivals Plymouth Albion in 2008, and later led the side to promotion in 2010.

The powerful Irish forward made 136 appearances during his five seasons at the club before being forced into retirement in 2013 and passing the captaincy onto second-row colleague Dean Mumm.

Honourable mention: Rob Baxter

4 Dean Mumm

Australian international Mumm arrived at Sandy Park in 2012, and he instantly became a fan favourite. The towering lock was named club captain after just one season at the club and helped the club lift their first-ever Premiership Cup title that season.

After three seasons and 70 appearances, Mumm made the switch back down under to re-join the Waratahs, however he will forever be remembered as an icon in the South West.

Honourable mention: Geoff Parling

3 Hoani Tui

Tighthead prop Tui was a true cult hero at Exeter. The New Zealand native joined the club in 2009 and quickly became a regular fixture in the squad, making 120 appearances prior to his departure in 2013.

Tui’s set-piece ability was also vital in laying the foundations for the Chiefs’ style of play as they found their feet in the Premiership.

Honourable mention: Harry Williams

2 Luke Cowan-Dickie

Hooker Cowan-Dickie was a major part of the Chiefs’ golden generation’.

He made his debut for the club in 2011 and made 164 appearances in total. Cowan-Dickie also lifted two Premiership titles, two Premiership Cups and one Champions Cup before making the switch to Sale Sharks.

He has also become a mainstay on the international stage too. He made his debut in the 2015 World Cup and was also a big part of the 2019 squad that made the final. In 2021, he was also selected for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

Honourable mention: Jack Yeandle

1 Ben Moon

One of three players from the 2010 promotion-winning team, Moon was a stalwart for the Chiefs in his time.

The loosehead prop made 300 appearances for the club following his debut in 2008 and helped guide the club to two Premiership titles, two Premiership Cups, one Champions Cup and one Championship title.

Moon was also called up to the England squad in 2018 and won five caps for his country.

Honourable mention: Alec Hepburn

Director of Rugby: Rob Baxter

The only reason former Exeter Chiefs captain Baxter wasn’t included in our XV is because we’ve put him as Director of Rugby.

Baxter took the reigns in 2009, and instantly won promotion to the Premiership. From there, he has overseen the greatest period in the club’s history, winning two Premiership titles, three Premiership Cups and one Champions Cup.

He has also been involved with the England coaching staff, taking charge of the forwards for the Argentina tour in 2013.

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