Exeter Chiefs go in search of their first major trophy in their 143-year history when they take on Northampton Saints in the LV=Cup this Sunday with Lewis Moody admitting victory would take them to the next level.
The Chiefs ensured they would be running out at their own stadium when they defeated Moody’s former club Bath Rugby 22-19 last Sunday.
It ended a long-running hoodoo against their Westcountry rivals, bringing up their first competitive victory since 1978 while setting them up for their first tilt at a trophy since promotion to the Aviva Premiership in 2010.
Since then, the club have earned plenty of plaudits for the way they have adjusted to life in the top flight, bringing through young players such as Jack Nowell, now a full international with England.
But while acknowledging the club’s development as a great example to follow, Moody believes a test of progression should also be seen in the contents of the trophy cabinet, with this weekend a great chance to add to it.
“Exeter have improved as a side year on year but it’s difficult to see how they improve without winning something,” he said. “You can finish fifth or sixth in the table every year but you have to have a goal, to see succession and to see return for the effort you are putting in.
“Rob Baxter (pictured) down there, he knows how to create a good culture and for me. What they have is a squad and an incredible culture and an importance around team and discipline and trust and respect for each other.
“Hopefully they can put that into a performance at the weekend. They are a very good model for a lot of other clubs to follow.”
While Nowell has been grabbing the headlines for England in recent weeks, he is not the only young Chiefs star to roll out off their production line.
The likes of fly-half Henry Slade and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie – nominated for this season’s LV= Breakthrough Player Award – have also impressed with Moody singling out the latter in particular.
“I really like Luke Cowan-Dickie, I don’t want to put the jinx on him but it’s a big final occasion and I think he will be one to watch. He loves carrying the ball.
“Young guys like Cowan-Dickie, a Junior World Cup winner, same as Jack Nowell, they have a lot of pedigree, they know how to win and that can only benefit the club.”