THE wind of change has blown into Melrose this week, in gale force proportions.
Eight years after taking on the head coach’s job at the club where he spent the majority of his playing career, Craig Chalmers has announced he will leave at the end of the season to take up a new post in the London area.
Chalmers will fulfil his league and cup commitments at the Greenyards until the end of the season, when John Dalziel will take on the position as head coach.
Speaking from The Greenyards, the former Scotland and British Lions stand-off said “I have made the decision to move to London for personal reasons. I have accepted a rugby position in that area and look forward to the new challenges that lie ahead.”
Chalmers leaves, having led the club to two championships, four cup finals, three years of British and Irish Cup involvement and an outstanding record on the sevens circuit, including winning their own tournament. As a player for the club he won six championships, the National Cup and two Melrose Sevens winners’ medals.
“It has been an honour to have coached Melrose during such a successful period of its history, however, the time is right for me to move on,” he added.
Responding to Chalmers’ announcement, Melrose president John Reed said: “Craig has been an outstanding servant of Melrose RFC, both as a player and coach. No-one is more passionate about Scottish rugby than Craig. Quite simply, his record speaks for itself and he is undoubtedly the most successful individual our club has ever produced. Everyone at the club wishes him well and the best of luck for the future.”
Under Chalmers, Melrose have produced pro-team backs such as Scott Wight, Fraser Thomson, Bruce Dick and James King, while the Scotland Under-20 team he coached included players such as Matt Scott, Tom Brown, Dougie Fife, Stuart McInnally, Chris Fusaro, Rob Harley, Ryan Wilson and Richie Gray.
Chalmers has already sampled life down south when, from 2000 to 2005, he played for Harlequins, Worcester and Pertemps Bees, but his destination this time round remains a mystery. Melrose director of rugby Mike Dalgetty told TheSouthern: “There has been no official announcement yet concerning Craig’s new post and it is up to him when he reveals this. He will remain with us until the end of the XV-a-side season and he, John and the team will be concentrating on our remaining league games and getting as far as we can in the cup.”
The club has not begun to look for a new backs coach yet, but Dalgetty told us that all at the Greenyards were delighted that Dalziel had accepted the head coach role.
“Without a doubt, John was the ideal candidate to take over from Craig. He is well-respected among the players and has been doing a good job as Scotland Under-20s coach. I am sure he will continue with all the good work that Craig has put in here over the last eight years.”
In response to his promotion, Dalziel said: “I have really enjoyed working with Craig and we have achieved a lot together. To be asked to make the transition from player/coach to head coach at Melrose is a challenge and responsibility I look forward to.
“This club does not stand still, believing in a high work ethic and that it has to be forward thinking to remain successful. To be appointed head coach at Melrose is a great opportunity and one I relish.”
Dalziel, a former Scotland 7s player and former captain of the Scotland Club XV, is currently working under Sean Lineen in the national under-20s set-up.