On the day that the Chiefs confirmed that Ed Holmes, Jack Maunder, Harrison Cully and Billy Keast would all be joining National League One side Plymouth Albion on dual-registered terms, former England international Cowling talked through the benefits it brings to not only clubs, but the players themselves.
“It’s a big tool to us,” said Cowling. “Young lads have to play, they are not going to learn by just training here every day, so it’s vital that part of their learning is to play.
“As a club we like them to play as high a level as they can and to feature regularly for whatever team they are at. Ultimately to play in the Championship is important, but on the route up there sides like Taunton and Plymouth Albion are very important parts for their development.”
The Chiefs have seen in previous years how players given exposure to senior rugby in the National Leagues and the Championship have used it as a stepping stone to go on to greater things.
England stars Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jack Nowell all enjoyed short stints with Plymouth Albion and the Cornish Pirates, while the likes of Sam Hill, Dave Ewers and Jack Yeandle were others to benefit from playing for a time in the Championship.
More recently, Max Bodilly, Tom Hendrickson, Stu Townsend and Jack Innard all featured for the Pirates last season in English rugby’s second tier with Bodilly later returning to Sandy Park and forcing his way into Rob Baxter’s first team thinking.
Cowling is keen to see more of the same moving forward, adding: “The relationship between ourselves and the local clubs is very important. Obviously the loaning clubs would like the players to be there all the time, but at the same time you have to remember that a player wants to be here at Sandy Park and be part of the training and wanting the chance to be part of the A League and competitions like the LV= Cup.
“At the same time, though, they need more than just those games. We’ve seen in the past how the relationship between ourselves and the clubs has worked well and we also try and help with the development of the coaches at those other clubs as well.
“As you say, we’ve seen the success it can bring in the past. All of those that have gone out to these clubs have ended up being star performers in the end. Even last season we saw Max Bodilly finishing up being one of the first names on the team sheet at the Pirates and now he’s banging on the door here with the Chiefs.”
As well as Holmes, Cully, Maunder and Keast, new Albion head coach Dan Parkes - himself a former Chiefs player - is also bringing in highly-rated young guns Joe Simmonds, Will Norton, Paul Davis and Harry Strong, all of whom have come through the Chiefs hugely successful Academy structure.
Member since: 5th January 2016
Hi, I am Mark Stevens, Media and Communications Manager for the Exeter Chiefs