Premiership champions Exeter are benchmark for clubs like Bury St Edmunds, says Wolfpack chairman

Exeter Chiefs' celebrate winning the Aviva Premiership Final at Twickenham

Exeter Chiefs' celebrate winning the Aviva Premiership Final at Twickenham - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Bury St Edmunds chairman Mike Robinson has cited Premiership champions Exeter as a marker of what can be achieved by smaller clubs, ahead of the new National 2 season.

Following seventh and 11th-placed finishes respectively, in their first two years at the fourth tier of English rugby, Bury, who signed Italian fly-half Luca Merolle yesterday, are preparing for the new season with a new head coach and a clutch of overseas signings.

As for Exeter, England’s current top-dogs spent several years in the second-tier of the national structure, following promotion in 1997, having only turned professional earlier that decade.

Robinson is under no illusions that replicating the west country side’s achievement would be a mammoth challenge, but says the benchmark has been set by the Chiefs.

“Exeter have shown what can be achieved as they were at our sort of level for a number of years,” said Robinson, whose club have a five-year plan to reach the Championship.

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“They had the dream and put things in place to develop that dream.

“While we are following a specific model, in some ways we are a bit like Exeter were and that presents a big challenge for us.”

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Asked about potentially playing in the Championship one day, Robinson conceded: “We are not at that level financially at the moment.

“But success breeds success and as we move forwards we will attract more sponsors.

“We would have to employ more paid staff to manage the club and would require more discipline in strength and conditioning, and that would come from more finance and funding, and we are building gradually.”

Asked if promotion, is achievable this season, Robinson explained: “It will depend where we end up with the squad and we still have a few gaps to fill, but I think the top-three is achievable.

“However, there are a lot of teams wanting the same as us, and our budget is quite a lot lower than other sides.”

He added: “Terry Sands (Performance director) has sourced some fantastic high-quality coaches and players.

“I am very excited about the team’s potential although you never quite know what will happen.”

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