Exe Men

Winner of the Telegraph Sports Book of the Year Award, 2021


  • The inside story of the fairy tale success story of Exeter Chiefs, the club from the lower leagues who broke into the English Premiership and not only survived against all expectations, but has gone on to become one of the most dominant club teams in world rugby.


‘A beautifully-written, amusing and insightful book that gets to the very heart of Exeter Chiefs – a rugby club with one of the most remarkable stories in British sport. Rob Kitson’s Exe Men is the best rugby book I’ve read in years’ – Donald McRae, twice winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year


‘Forensic, funny, captivating, a story told with relish as well as insight’ – Mick Cleary, The Telegraph


‘No Exeter fan should be without this book, nor any sports fan who loves a fairy tale grounded in professionalism. Splendid stuff’ – Stuart Barnes, The Times


‘Exeter Chiefs – the community club that grew into a European giant. This is how they did it. A quite brilliant combination of great story and great storyteller’ – Tom English, BBC Sport 


‘Beautifully told, this is a rare insight into the remarkable rise of the Chiefs, from their homespun roots to the pinnacle of European rugby – surely one of the most heart-warming tales in all of British sport’ - Alastair Eykyn, BT Sport


‘Punchy and penetrative, Rob Kitson has done justice to one of sport’s greatest stories. If you don’t already love Exeter, you will now’ – Alan Pearey, Rugby World


‘captures the establishment of the culture and some of the key moments in the rise of the Chiefs. So much more than a rugby book and full of genuinely funny anecdotes, this is a read for anyone interested in building a winning team’ – Chris Bentley, Express and Echo, Exeter


'Exeter’s story is in itself a text book for how to build something lasting and worthwhile in rugby’s treacherous professional era. In Kitson’s hands the textbook becomes an epic tale of humility and glory' – Michael Aylwin, The Observer


Among the best stories in modern British team sport has been the rise of Exeter Chiefs. How, exactly, did an unfashionable rugby team from Devon emerge from obscurity to become the double champions of England and Europe? What makes them tick? What are their secrets?

Exe Men is a compelling story of regional pride, fierce rural identity, larger-than-life local heroes, remarkable characters, epic resilience, big city snobbery, geographical separation, steepling ambition and personal sacrifice which will strike a chord with anyone who enjoys a classic underdog story.

This is not any old rugby book, it is the inside story of Exeter’s incredible journey from the edge of nowhere to the summit of the English and European club game.



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