Was the name ‘Chiefs’ coined by a Sidmouth journalist?

Honiton rugby action

Honiton rugby action - Credit: Archant

Much has been seen in the news recently regarding Exeter Rugby Club’s controversial use of the ‘Chiefs’ branding name, writes Terry O’Brien.

But does the sobriquet owe its origins to a Sidmouth reporter?

Exeter’s claim that their first team has been called Exeter Chiefs for over 100 years is correct.

It was common, at least in Devon, for rugby club first teams to be called the Chiefs.

However, this was not derived from any association with native Americans, it is simply a hierarchical term.

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But was Sidmouth the origin? A match report in the Sidmouth Observer, which appeared in November 1895, starts with the sentence ‘Sidmouth’s chief team visited Honiton’.

In another report in April 1896, after Sidmouth had won the Devon Senior Cup, the opening phrase had been shortened to ‘Sidmouth Chiefs’.

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