Exmouth RFC does a fantastic job of providing people from their local community with the opportunity to play the game in a safe and enjoyable environment. Rugby Club Magazine recently caught up with Club Representative Jon Hill to find out more about the good work they’ve been doing lately.
He told us, “This season is my eighth at the club. I was first attracted by the level of rugby and its locality. Having coached a number of their players at Exeter College, where I also coach, I was well aware of the level of some of the players and the ambition and drive of the club. It is a lovely community club with some great people involved.”
“The most challenging thing is bridging the gap between levels 5 and level 4 of the rugby pyramid. National Two (South) is a big step up and we have been promoted twice but relegated the next season. The gap is getting bigger, and we are ambitious in the sense that we want to get up there and stay there, but also very realistic and grounded in that this must be done in the right way and ensure that we stay right to our roots and our community ethos, that should always come first.
The most rewarding thing is to see the players really buy into the culture of the club, getting four senior teams out each Saturday, and promoting and using a lot of local players who have come up through the junior system at the club.”
“We are in a really healthy position at the moment. Our success can be gauged by the fact that we are one of only two teams in Devon getting four senior teams out in leagues each week, when lower level rugby seems to be dying off.
We are really pushing our #OneClub ethos and the links between 1st, 2nd, 3rd XV and colts, as well as the youth teams is really strong. Only a couple of weeks ago a high number of 1st XV senior players gave up their Sunday’s to help coach a junior team and work with the junior coaches.”
“As above, we have had a number of highs and a number of lows. Obviously last season in National Two didn’t work out very well for us, but this season, we have had a reasonable season to date, and our 2nd XV have successfully competed in the newly formed South West Pilot League, meaning they now have competitive fixtures each week, which in previous seasons has not been the case.”
“We want to finish the 1st XV season strongly, and would love to win the Devon Senior Cup again. In the six seasons that we have been able to compete in the Cup whilst I have been at the club (we weren’t allowed to enter last season being at level 4), we have won the cup five times.
We would love to move further up the South West Pilot League with our 2nd XV and our 3rd XV are currently top of their league. Our colts are on course to reach the final of the Shield at Sandy Park, home of the Exeter Chiefs, if they continue their run of form. No fewer than eight players have been selected in the Devon under 20’s squad, and six featured in the Under 18’s squad, so the future is certainly bright.”
“Youth development is huge for a club like ourselves. Current England International Joe Launchbury is a former Exmouth Junior. Current Bristol prop Ollie Dawe came up through our junior and senior section, and current 1st XV hooker Charlie Gibbings has played for Bristol in the A league this season.
We are always looking to push our players onto higher levels. Five ex Cockles are plying their trade with Plymouth in National One, four current under 20’s have played for Exeter Chiefs Academy in some of their fixtures this season, and many colts have stepped up and played 1st and 2nd XV rugby for us this season.”
“Balancing the community club with the demands of league rugby is a challenging one. Always promoting youth is massively important, but maintaining and developing 1st XV rugby is also key to success as well as recruitment. If the model is right, then you will always produce young talented players. We must continue to find young players opportunities through good 2nd XV fixtures.
We would love to get to the next level and stay there, whilst always staying true to our roots and fabric of the club. Homegrown and local players will always be the way forward. We want to play an attractive brand of rugby throughout the club, and see players jumping from the colts team to the 1st XV. We also want to be an attractive team for players to join, because they see us as a friendly, but also ambitious and well organised club.”