WHERE ARE THEY NOW | Mouritz Botha
If you want to find the busiest man in rugby then look no further than the former Saracens and England lock Mouritz Botha. He has a list of coaching jobs as long as your arm and is obviously loving the next phase of his rugby life.
After a stint in Germany, where he almost helped to steer the national side into the 2019 World Cup finals, he took up a role as forwards and defence coach at Championship club, Ampthill. He also coaches in the rugby team at Bedford School and is director of rugby at Bedford Queens RFC. He also had a stint as forwards coach at Bishops Stortford RFC last summer.
There is no escape from rugby for the man who played in three Premiership Finals and a Heineken Champions Cup final during his six season, 142 game stint at Saracens.
“I had a great time at Saracens and made some lifelong friends and memories. I go back to the club as often as I can and there are still a few players left who I played with,” said Botha, now 40.
“It’s a bit like going back to your old school or university. There are such strong ties and it certainly was a case that I learned so much from my time at the club.”
Having won 10 caps for England, the South-African born Botha went back to his homeland for a season of Super Rugby with the Sharks before joining Newcastle Falcons. He was eventually forced to retire on medical grounds at the age of 35 after suffering from the adverse symptoms of concussion.
“Transitioning out of rugby wasn’t easy and I’ve always admired the way Saracens have tried to help their players with the next phases of their lives. That is something that I think you’ll find more and more clubs doing in the future,” said Botha.
“I decided to get into coaching to help players to reach their full potential and enjoy what they're doing. Playing rugby at a professional level was a huge privilege and I like to think you can learn from every experience you go through.
“I've been on a long journey in terms of playing and coaching, so there are lots of scenarios I've learned from. I try to instil belief and confidence in players and help with the mindset you need to have on big occasions.
“I began my career in England at Bedford Athletic and then joined Bedford Blues. That’s where I learned my trade before getting the chance to step into the big time with Saracens.
“I love being involved at different levels of the game – Ampthill are in the Championship and Bedford Queens are in Midlands League 3 East (South) – and it’s great to be able to learn how to address players at different levels and ages.
“The Championship is very physical and very competitive and we have five Saracens players who are dual registered with us at Ampthill. From my point of view, it is the best place for them to learn because they are playing for points, for a club and their fans and with players for who the outcome of every game matters.
“There are around 160 players playing in the Premiership who have played in the Championship and many of them have gone on to play for England. I know it is a bit of a contentious issue, but the Championship is a huge breeding ground for the professional game in England.”
If you thought the end of the playing season might afford Botha a chance to spend a bit more time with his wife and two sons away from rugby, think again.
“In the summer I spend time working at rugby camps for kids,” he added.
MOURITZ BOTHA’S SARACENS DREAM TEAM
15 Alex Goode 14 Dave Strettle 13 Kameli Ratuvou 12 Brad Barritt 11 Chris Wyles 10 Owen Farrell 9 Neil de Kock 1 Mako Vunipola 2 Schalk Brits 3 Carlos Nieto 4 Maro Itoje 5 Steve Borthwick 6 Ernst Joubert 7 Jacques Burger 8 Billy Vunipola
Coach: Mouritz Botha – “I think we could win some silverware!”