Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter and captain Joe Simmonds have been honoured in the Queen's New Year Honours list.
The Sandy Park based club had a terrific 2019/20 season which saw them complete a double of a Premiership title win along with a triumph in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Since gaining promotion in 2010, Exeter have been on the rise since then and in the last five seasons they finished three times runners-up in the Premiership and winning the title two times. Baxter has been awarded an OBE while skipper Simmonds becomes an MBE.
“I couldn’t quite work out if it was real or whether it was spam or someone having bit of a prank!” Baxter told the PA news agency.
“It turned up by email and not in an official letter. You download it, read it and check who it has been emailed from with a Google search!
“I was sat there with my wife, both of us in a slightly bemused state. My family are delighted. There’s a bit of surprise. My wife and my family are my biggest supporters. They said ‘well done, well deserved’.
“There’s a little bit of embarrassment on my end that I was the guy with the award on the back of the journey the rugby club have had.
“I see it as a fantastic honour but while I’m the guy who tends to pick up the accolades, I know an awful lot of people have worked extremely hard at the rugby club to make us successful.
“It started a long time ago and has involved a lot of people. My overriding emotion is to thank them because their dedication and hard work needs recognising.”
Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has been knighted while rugby league legend Rob Burrow has been made MBE along with British Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothavon, former Tottenham and Chelsea striker Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers.