Exeter chiefs say they have received a “very positive” response to the decision to replace their Native American-themed branding with a new club logo from this summer. The club’s “visual identity” will now be based on a local Celtic chief inspired by the Dumnonii tribe, who were based in Devon, Cornwall and part of Somerset during the Iron Age.
The change, confirmed by the Guardian in November, follows criticism of the club’s existing brand image and accusations of “cultural appropriation”. Now, like several North American professional sports teams, the club badge is being revised and will feature the helmeted image of a Celtic warrior, a nod to the heritage of the surrounding region.
According to the club, the name change reflects the Celtic helmets worn around 300 BC, inspired by the La Tène style of art popular in Britain at that time. The city of Exeter was previously known as Isca Dumnoniorum, which translates to “Watertown of the Dumnonii”.
The nickname “Chiefs”, however, is to remain unchanged. West Country rugby teams have long dubbed their first team “the Chiefs”, with Exeter having done so as far back as 1908. Discussions are ongoing regarding other associated brands including the Wigwam Bar and the totem pole which sits in the Sandy’s reception area. Park, but the Guardian understands they are also set to be replaced.
Exeter’s current branding has been around since 1999, but Chiefs chairman Tony Rowe says the club’s board have now decided it is time for a change which he believes will will cost around £500,000.
“We are delighted to welcome the next era of rugby to Exeter,” said Rowe. “As a rugby club we have been willing to listen, we have consulted widely, and now we are ready to invoke change. This is a new direction for our great club, but it is also an exciting vision that , I have no doubt, will propel us forward and upward over time.
Rowe had previously told the Guardian he thought club members would resist any change, but Exeter withdrew its regular Big Chief mascot in 2020 after accepting it could be seen as disrespectful.
Some are already comparing the Celtic warrior’s facial features to Jack Nowell, 12th-century Sultan Saladin and TV presenter Rylan Clark, but lobby group Exeter Chiefs for Change has hailed the change. “Our faith in the club has been restored today and we are overwhelmed with enthusiasm for the new identity which celebrates Devon’s rich history and gives us even more reason to be proud of our club and region.” , said a spokesperson. “Indigenous peoples have long said that they are neither respected nor honored by Indigenous imagery…so we are relieved that these concerns have been listened to and addressed.”
Social media platform TikTok, meanwhile, has signed a four-year deal to partner with the Six Nations. The women’s tournament, which previously had no title sponsor, will now be known as TikTok Six Nations. To date, there have been over 5.1 billion views of rugby content on TikTok.