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Chiefs legend Gareth Steenson nominated for Freedom of the City of Exeter

Published: 24 November 2020

Gareth Steenson Gareth Steenson

Councillors are being asked to consider granting Exeter Chiefs legend Gareth Steenson Freedom of the City of Exeter.

Next week’s Executive will discuss presenting the honour to the player in recognition for his years of service to the club, the sport and the city.

Steeno, who joined the Chiefs from the Cornish Pirates in 2008, made 311 appearances for Exeter, winning two Premiership titles, a Champions Cup, LV=Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup. The fly-half, who is the club’s all-time leading points-scorer, announced his retirement earlier this month.

A report to councillors says: “Gareth Steenson has achieved national and international recognition for his rugby playing career with the Exeter Chiefs, including being a part of the playing squad which saw them gain promotion to the Rugby Premiership, and culminated in the team being crowned double champions in October 2020, by winning both the Heineken Champions Cup and Gallagher Premiership.

 “As a key member of the playing squad, Gareth helped put the name of Exeter Chiefs firmly in the mind of all rugby fans, and helped spread the profile of Exeter far and wide.”

The report says Exeter Chiefs have had a massive community impact in Exeter. Since the move to Sandy Park the Club has developed an extensive academy system that is responsible for developing thousands of young people, some of whom have gone to excel at the highest level of sport including the British Lions and national representation.

Sandy Park has also become an international stadium, hosting Rugby World Cup games in 2015, as well as women’s internationals and international 7 tournaments. The influence of the club now stretched across Europe and to a global television audience.

The report concludes: “Gareth has been a symbol of this growth in the impact of the club, he has been an ever present presence through this period of growth and accomplishment. For commentators and fans of rugby outside of Exeter, Gareth has been the leader and character behind the team and the personification of the qualities that have made Exeter unique.”

In response to the nomination, the player said: “To receive freedom of the city would be a huge honour. Exeter is my adopted home and the warmth the people of Exeter have shown me over the last 12-13 years has been truly humbling.

“I have been welcomed into the heart of the Exeter community, which means so much to me. I have been fortunate to be part of an incredible journey at Exeter Chiefs and witnessed first-hand the growth of not just the club but the city and community as a whole.

“The support I have received both on and off the pitch has been overwhelming. To receive this honour from a city I love would be an incredibly proud moment.”

If the honour is approved by councillors, Steeno will follow Chief Executive and Chairman Tony Rowe OBE and Director of Rugby Rob Baxter in being granted Freedom of the City.

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