Davies hopes to star for Chiefs

KIEran Davies, 18, of Sidmouth, has just signed an Academy rugby contract with Exeter Chiefs, writes Lee Glanville.

Prop Kieran has long been part of the School of Rugby set-up, attending Ivybridge Community College since the age of 15 to benefit from the rugby academy there, and where he captained his age group side. But he learned his trade at Sidmouth Rugby Club, having started there at U7 level playing tag rugby and has worked his way up through the age groups.

Before attending Ivybridge College he was a pupil at Sidmouth College.

Kieran owes a lot of his success to Richard Sawbridge, who was tragically killed in a car accident last week and Kieran’s mother Kay said: “It has been bitter sweet as one of the most important people he wanted to tell straight away, he wasn’t able to.”

However, Kieran was keen to thank Mark Ross, Rob Boaden and Glenn Channing for all their help and support over the years.

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It has been a long-term dream of his to play for Exeter Chiefs. He signed on Sunday and will start as a professional on a three year contract in June. He has also just played for an England Development U19 side against Wales.

Academy of Rugby Coach Rob Gibson believes the crop of youngsters coming through the Exeter Chiefs Academy ranks will help to provide an exciting future for the club after a number of them featured in last weekend’s LV= Cup clash with Bath.

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Three other boys from Ivybridge signed at the same time: Joel Conlon (back-row), Stuart Townsend (scrum-half) and Jack Arnott (winger). “We have high hopes for all four boys,” added Gibson. “The work they have put in to date has been outstanding, whilst it is only right to recognise the work that is also being put in at both club level and also at the Schools of Rugby.

Having already seen Luke Cowan-Dickie, Lloyd Fairbrother and Jack Nowell make their first team debuts earlier in the season, the past fortnight has seen the likes of Jack Arnott, James Lightfoot-Brown, Tom Cowan-Dickie, Sam Blanchet, Sam Hill, Ben Rogers and Sam Jones all experience first team duty for the first time.

“For us as coaches it is great to work with players who have come through good club structures and now are aim is to hopefully take them onto that next level.”

“I thought it was brilliant to see seven of the Academy lads on the field at the final whistle on Sunday,” said Gibson. “At the same time, I think it’s testament to Rob and Ali that they have the confidence and trust to put these guys into the first team and play in games like that.

“They obviously realise the importance of bringing on all of our youngsters in the Academy and the experience they will have got from featuring at the weekend may not be seen immediately, but will be seen in the future.”

Certainly the progress made by the current crop of Academy starlets means that for those following in their stud marks, they now have a clear pathway of what it takes to get recognised at the highest level.

“There is now a clear pathway for guys to look at,” explained Gibson. “For those players that we are working with at an early age, they can now see that with the right attitude, the right coaching and the right development, they can follow a similar path.”

Kay said: “I am thrilled to bits but also a bit nervous. It’s not tag rugby any more and we went through the tunnel at Exeter on Sunday and Jack (Arnott) was there. They all looked huge!

“But the sad side has been not being able to tell Richard. He knew though that he was doing well, but he was a big influence on Kieran.”

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