JIM DIXON will replace Ian Calder as Basingstoke RFC's senior coach - and the Kiwi says he cannot wait for his new challenge at Down Grange to begin.

Dixon's appointment was announced to The Gazette by Basingstoke RFC chairman Dr Steve Tristram on Saturday after the club's final game of the season, against Redruth.

And Dixon, 26, said: "I am very happy to be given the job, although I know it's a big task and will be a tough challenge.

"But I'm confident in my abilities, and the support from the boys when we told them I was taking over from Ian was positive. I'm just looking forward to getting started."

Dr Tristram believes the club have made the correct decision and that Dixon will prove to be a success in the role.

He said: "Jim has made his mark this year with us as a man, player and a coach of some profile. He is someone we hold in high regard.

"He has enjoyed a successful year coaching the academy and has established good links with schools and colleges in the area.

"Jim is soon to complete a top-level coaching course - reaching level 3 as he will this summer means he is a coach of international standard - and will bring different skills to the club.

"We have been very impressed with him, and we are confident Jim will raise the standard of coaching at the club.

"That was one of our main objectives when considering a successor to Ian."

After making the decision three weeks ago not to extend Calder's contract - which expires on May 31 - as director of rugby, Dr Tristram and chairman of playing John Byett spoke to Dixon about becoming the new man in charge.

Dixon, the club's current community development officer, then had to submit a plan of the way he felt the club could and should progress.

It married with the thoughts of the two senior officials, and confirmed they had approached the right candidate. Sealing the deal last week then became a formality.

Dr Tristram said: "Jim is on a one-year, rolling contract but we hope he is with us for at least two years. His possible starting date is June 1."

And Dixon is already clear in his mind about his aims and what he has to accomplish.

He said: "We've got to win promotion and come straight back into national three. To do that we need to recruit well this summer.

"I'm going to target the universities at Reading and Winchester, and I've asked the boys to try and spread the word and get players to the club.

"We need to create a strong second team so there is competition for places and the guys are pushed, because I think a few took the fact they would be playing for granted this season.

"We need a pool of players who will be committed from start to finish. It's going to be a busy summer of preparation, but if we can do those things, we will be in a strong position by the start of next season."

Although Dixon's title is yet to be confirmed, it is likely he will be called club coach and community organiser, said Dr Tristram.

Dixon will also oversee the work of the new community coach the club is currently advertising for.