Exeter Chiefs legend Gareth Steenson set to be awarded freedom of city

Legendary Exeter Chiefs fly-half Gareth Steenson is set to be honoured with the freedom of the city.

Council bosses are to discuss awarding the player the prestigious accolade in recognition of his years of service to the club, the sport and the area.

Steenson who joined the Chiefs from the Cornish Pirates in 2008, has made 311 appearances for the Sandy Park side, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

He is their all-time leading points scorer and has won two Premiership titles, a Champions Cup, LV=Cup and the Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The 36-year-old announced his retirement earlier this month following the club’s historic League and European double.

Councillors are recommended to request that full council, when they meet on December 15, confer the title of Honorary Freeman of the City Status to Gareth Steenson.

Irishman Steenson said in response to the nomination: “To receive freedom of the city would be a huge honour.

“Exeter is my adopted home and the warmth the people of Exeter have shown me over the last 12-13 years has been truly humbling.

“I have been welcomed into the heart of the Exeter community, which means so much to me.

“I have been fortunate to be part of an incredible journey at Exeter Chiefs and witnessed first-hand the growth of not just the club but the city and community as a whole.

“The support I have received both on and off the pitch has been overwhelming. To receive this honour from a city I love would be an incredibly proud moment.”

Exeter City Council’s executive will decide on December 15 whether to confer the title of Honorary Freeman of the City Status on Steenson.

A report by corporate manager for democratic and civic support John Street to members says: “Gareth Steenson has achieved national and international recognition for his rugby playing career with the Exeter Chiefs, including being a part of the playing squad which saw them gain promotion to the Rugby Premiership, and culminated in the team being crowned double champions in October 2020, by winning both the Heineken Champions Cup and Gallagher Premiership.

“As a key member of the playing squad, Gareth helped put the name of Exeter Chiefs firmly in the mind of all rugby fans, and helped spread the profile of Exeter far and wide.”

It says that Steenson has been s ‘symbol’ of the club’s growth and community impact and concludes: “For commentators and fans of rugby outside of Exeter, Gareth has been the leader and character behind the team and the personification of the qualities that have made Exeter unique.”

The Chiefs’ chief executive and chairman Tony Rowe OBE and director of rugby Rob Baxter already hold the honour.

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