Exeter Chiefs have left Yorkshire rugby union trio sadly trailing

Thirteen years ago, the final standings in English rugby union’s second tier read:

Champions: Exeter Chiefs celebrate with the trophy after the European Champions Cup final. Picture: PA

1st: Leeds Tykes

2nd: Rotherham Titans

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3rd: Doncaster Knights

4th: Exeter Chiefs.

On Saturday night, the Exeter Chiefs became the champions of Europe, winning a nerve-jangling Heineken Cup final 31-27 over Racing 92 in Bristol.

This coming Saturday they can complete a continental and domestic double when they face Wasps in the Premiership final.

Leeds Tykes will kick-off in the third tier of English rugby, semi-professional level, sometime in the new year.

Exeter were beaten by them to promotion in 2007, as they were in 2008-09 when finishing second to the then-Leeds Carnegie, who would enjoy just two more years in the top flight, two more name changes and a near financial oblivion as Exeter established themselves as a force.

Doncaster only got close to promotion one more time but at least they are a financially-stable outfit still playing in the Championship.

Rotherham Titans are in the fourth tier this coming season having suffered two relegations in three years.

The plight of the three Yorkshire clubs merely emphasises the remarkable rise of Exeter.

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James Mitchinson