The Chiefs have a tie-up with Exeter College that allows players bidding for a place on the full academy to combine studies and rugby for an academic year. Two of the players on the scheme are Haydn Lidstone, a fly-half, and pacy wingman Josh Davis. Lidstone, whose rugby career started with Salcombe in the under-sevens, and Davis signed after meeting the Barnstaple management. Jeremy Chugg, the director of rugby at Pottington Road, said it was good to add some quality to the squad so early in the pre-season build-up. He added: "It is something positive when a Premiership club as big as Exeter has the confidence in Barnstaple to help the development of their young players." Linford Brock, another winger, is on his way back to Barum having had a year's sabbatical. "Linford left us to live in Dartmouth for a bit, then moved on to London to work," said Chugg. "A year out of the game will have revived his appetite for rugby as he did not have a lot of luck with injuries before that." Gone from Pottington Road is lock Matt Hague, who has returned to Tiverton after three years, and Chugg is unsure how much the coaches will see of scrum-half James Bath. "Work made it difficult for James to play last season and it would not surprise me if he moved to a club closer to where he lives, such as Exmouth," said Chugg. Pre-season training will start on July 2, in common with most clubs at Barnstaple's level. Barnstaple won the Devon Cup last season and, as runners-up to Bournemouth in the South West Premier Division, reached the National Two play-offs. A 44-5 defeat away to Essex side Westcliff ended Barum's hopes of returning to National Two South at the first attempt. Having had nearly eight weeks to reflect on the defeat by Westcliff, Chugg has come to the conclusion it probably did the club a favour. "It is better to find out in early May, when the sun is shining, that you are not ready for promotion, rather than spending 30 weeks being reminded off it, often in the wind and rain or both," said Chugg. "It was a tough result to swallow at the time, but it told us we were not good enough yet."