IT’S not always players or coaches who constitute major signings. One of the factors behind Exeter’s rise has been Paddy Anson, who has been their head of strength and conditioning since 2006-07. A former Royal Marine, Anson did a degree in Exercise and Sports Science at Exeter University and put it to great use at the Chiefs.

When Exeter were in the Championship, Anson wasn’t afraid to sacrifice regular-season fitness in order to peak physically during the end-of-season play-offs. It helped take Exeter up and once in the Aviva Premiership he kept raising the bar. He has just been signed by Gloucester.

“Paddy has been key to our success, to the way he’s got us physically,” says Exeter prop Ben Moon. “He’s mad about his work and he’ll be missed.”

Part of Exeter’s pre-season work involved an ‘escape and evasion’ team-bonding exercise with the Marines on Dartmoor. If you can cope with being chased at night by the Marines, you should manage 80 minutes of Premiership rugby. To see some of the training exercise, click on the video below.