By NEALE HARVEY
Ambitious Championship outfit Ampthill have pulled off another coup by appointing former England and Saracens lock Mouritz Botha as assistant coach.
Botha, who coached Germany during their bid to reach the World Cup last year, recently assisted Georgia in their pre-tournament preparations and is keen to gain hands-on league experience as he builds an increasingly impressive coaching CV.
Ex-Harlequins hooker Dave Ward joined Ampthill as player-coach over the summer and Botha’s arrival will underpin their bid to become established in Level 2.
Botha, capped ten times by England, told The Rugby Paper: “Germany was a great experience but I wanted something closer to home and Ampthill were interested.
“I love the ambition here and it’s a club in a unique stage of transformation having come through the leagues in the last few years. It’s a brilliant story and I’ll be here for the season assisting with defence, lineout and having an input elsewhere.”
Botha, 37, spent five hugely successful seasons at Saracens and also enjoyed stints at Bedford, Newcastle and Super Rugby giants Sharks.
He said: “Guys like Alex Sanderson and Paul Gustard were big mentors for me at Saracens and a lot of what I do as a coach is based on stuff I took from there.
“Being at the Sharks and Newcastle after that meant I’ve seen how things are done by a lot of different people and I’ll add my own flavour to it.”
Whilst Botha’s first foray into the Test arena with Germany was memorable, he regrets how things unravelled once billionaire backer Hans-Peter Wild pulled out.
“We nearly qualified for the World Cup and really pushed Samoa, but I feel for the guys who worked so hard because it’s all got a little bit lost now,” Botha said.
“Germany were close to becoming a solid Tier Two nation but, like Uruguay and others, there needs to be greater investment in leagues, players and coaches.
“I can’t see many countries genuinely making the step up to Tier One level unless big money is invested, either by individuals, unions or World Rugby.”
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