Exeter Rugby Club chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, said he was "immensely privileged" to have been granted the Freedom of Exeter at a special ceremony today.
Officially awarded the honour by the Lord Mayor, Olwen Foggin, Mr Rowe met with dignitaries at the city’s Guildhall before then exercising his right to herd sheep down the High Street.
Starting off at Dix’s Field in Southernhay, Mr Rowe led the sheep – who were dressed in the national flags of the countries competing at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Exeter – down the High Street, past the Guildhall and onto Cathedral Green.
With public lining the route all the way, Mr Rowe was given a rousing ovation on his arrival at the Guildhall where the Lord Mayor was on hand to meet him.
In the years since his association with the Devon club, Mr Rowe has seen the Chiefs go from strength to strength, gaining promotion into the Aviva Premiership in 2010 and winning their first piece of major silverware in March.
As well as being the driving force behind the Chiefs, the Exeter-based businessman has also been at the heart of bringing the Rugby World Cup to the city, which will host three fixtures during this autumn’s tournament.
Freedom of the City is an honorary position which the City Council can bestow on anyone who has, in its opinion, undertaken something which is outstanding or has helped enhance the reputation of the city.
Commenting on his day, Mr Rowe – who was accompanied along the route by former club captain Richard Baxter, who provided the sheep from his family farm – said:
"What a lovely day it has been and I’m truly overwhelmed by the support shown to me along the walk.
"The turnout on the streets was just fantastic and something I didn’t really expect.
"As I’ve said already, this is a great honour to have bestowed upon me and I am immensely privileged to have been rewarded like this. I’d like to thank the City of Exeter for this honour and for the support they have given me over a great number of years. After all I am just going a job for the club that I enjoy."