FORMER Scotland and British Lions fly half Craig Chalmers is to become Chinnor RFC’s new head coach.
Chalmers, who won 60 caps between 1989 and 1999, will replace Jason Bowers when he steps down at the end of the season due to work commitments.
The coup sees Chalmers join the Thame-based club as director of rugby on March 19, taking over as head coach in the close season.
Chalmers, 44, has coached Melrose to the Scottish Premiership title for the last two seasons and will continue in that post until the end of this campaign.
He said: “The Chinnor job was advertised on a rugby website and I was looking for a move down south for personal reasons, so I applied for the job.
“When I spoke to the people at Chinnor, I was impressed by the way the club was run and their ambition, and it seemed like a very similar set-up to Melrose, where I was coming from.
“It is clear to me that there is a sound platform to continue building on past successes.
“Whilst it will be sad to leave a club where I have spent very many happy years as player and coach, I look forward to my new challenge down south.”
Chalmers is moving to London to further his business interests.
He said: “I will be commuting from Ewell village in Surrey for training and games.
“I do also have some business interests with a recruitment company in the city, dealing mainly with employment in the security industry.”
Chinnor president Simon Vickers said: “It is perhaps a mark of our on-going success and enthusiasm that we have been able to secure the services of a top-flight former international and coach.
“Although Melrose play at a higher level than Chinnor, it is clear that they operate with similar principles of whole club rugby.
“We are sure that Craig will be instrumental in securing our current position and enabling the players to continue to develop.”
Bowers is resigning due to his recent promotion as the RFU’s area facilities and funding manager, but he will retain close links with the club.
He has been head coach for more than six years and taken Chinnor to the highest level in their history – seventh in National 2 South.
Bowers said: “My time at Chinnor RFC has been my most rewarding years at a rugby club.
“I have been blessed with getting together a bunch of players who have excelled and shown the utmost commitment, combined with the desire to improve.
“We have entered a fantastic period for the club and one I believe can continue to grow.”