RICHARD Thorpe believes that building a culture of togetherness will be key if he is to succeed at Chinnor.

The enforced break created by the coronavirus pandemic has allowed the club’s new director of rugby, who took over last month, to start putting his vision into practice.

Thorpe filled the vacancy left by Matt Williams, who took Chinnor from the lower reaches of National League 2 South to their highest-ever finish of fourth in National League 1 last season.

But the 35-year-old knows his remit does not end with the first XV and is determined to make his mark on the whole set-up.

He said: “There’s been a tremendous track record over the past few years and I want to make sure that trajectory continues.

“But I want to put my own flavour into the club.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do in terms of reconnecting with the community.

“A big part for me from the outset is to re-engage with the entire club, from the Under 7s right up to the first XV.

Thorpe added: “I want to structure the club so there’s a clear line of sight from the minis, juniors and particularly the colts up to the first team.

“The right loan player at the right time can literally make your season, but what’s more important is the culture.

“It’s going to be a completely new-look place from top-to-toe.”

Thorpe boasts a wealth of experience at the top level, playing more than 150 Premiership games with London Irish, Leicester Tigers and London Welsh and appearing at the 2015 World Cup for Canada.

The ex-international spent time as a player and coach at the Thame-based club in 2016/17 and this has allowed him to hit the ground running.

He said: “If you’re a new director of rugby stepping into a club, you’ve got a lot of work to do to understand how it functions and what might need to change.

“It can be hard when you’re taking the reins in May like I did.

“I know the players, the supporters, our board and the lifetime members, so it feels like coming home.

“Some of my closest friends are still involved at the club, so it’s been really fluid and natural.”

One of his first projects was to help set up Chinnor’s new careers hub, which was launched on Monday.

The scheme will initially help senior players choose a career path and find employment with local businesses, before eventually expanding to the club’s junior ranks.

To Thorpe’s knowledge, only London Welsh have implemented a similar idea and Chinnor’s new chief has been able to bounce ideas of his friend Cai Griffiths, director of rugby at the capital side.

With players facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and the return of competitive rugby potentially months away, the former flanker knows the initiative could help his club stand out.

He said: “With everything that’s happening, my gut feeling is that the club at the cutting edge of developing players off the field will be the club that attracts and retains the best players.

“We want them to come back and work for companies in the area.

“That’s going to breed a healthy culture where everyone is on the same page.

“At our core we’re a community club.”