Bishop's Stortford rugby: Former Harlequins, Worcester, London Scottish and Army player Lee Soper named lead forwards' coach after Mouritz Botha takes up Ampthill offer
Former Army staff sergeant Lee Soper has joined Bishop's Stortford's ranks as lead forwards' coach following the rapid departure of Mouritz Botha.
Stortford were dealt a blow when Botha, who won the Premiership with Saracens in 2011 and earned 10 England caps, decided to make a swift return to his old club Ampthill having been unveiled in his new role at Silver Leys only at the end of June. The Bedfordshire club play in the Greene King IPA Championship, one rung above Stortford in National League 1.
But joint head coaches Tom Coleman and Marcus Cattell moved swiftly to recruit Soper, who has just retired from the Army after 24 years and has most recently been coaching at Colchester. He will work with assistant forwards' coach Rob Faiers.
Soper, a former Harlequins, Worcester, Cornish Pirates and London Scottish player, served in the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. He represented the Army on the pitch and then coached the team from 2016.
"Lee's a good fit for us. It's probably come about in a way we didn't expect, but he knows the situation with Mouritz and how that ended up," said Coleman.
"That situation wasn't ideal, but in this game you can't dwell on things too much. You can get let down by people sometimes.
"I've nothing against Mouritz. He got an opportunity to work at a higher level and he decided to take it, and he rang me to apologise.
"On reflection, it was disappointing for a few days but we acted in the way we believe was the right way. We can't let it affect us as we've got a lot of work to do and want to prepare the boys to the best of our ability."
Soper was introduced to the squad at last Thursday's training session and the whole coaching team can now focus on getting the squad ready for their first pre-season friendly, at home to Westcliff on Saturday August 14.
"Lee has got a lot of coaching experience and a good playing pedigree as well," said Coleman.
"He's also probably more old school with those old school core rugby values which we think will fit in very nicely with what we're doing.
"He's a very good communicator and will bring a nice balance. I think he'll be very good for us."