Despite it only being February, Bedford Blues have started the building process for the 2017/18 Championship season by securing the services of two impressive members of the current squad.
Captain Michael Le Bourgeois and prop Ben Cooper have both put pen to paper on new deals which will keep them at Goldington Road next season.
Speaking about the signings, Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to secure the services of both Michael and Ben for next season.
“To be fair they have both attracted plenty of interest from other clubs, however after detailed discussions about our plans for next season, which have been outlined to me by the chairman and directors, they definitely both wanted to be involved with getting Bedford Blues back up the right end of the table.
“Michael has developed into an excellent player during his time with us and he is keen to lead the team going forward. Ben may have only been with us for a few months, but he knows the club and is thoroughly enjoying being back with us and we’re pleased to have him here.”
Le Bourgeois, 26, joined the Blues in 2013 having moved from Jersey Rugby Club. Starting his rugby career in the Jersey Academy in 2008, ‘Booj’ signed for Jersey in 2011 and became the first Jersey Academy graduate and Jersey born player to sign a professional contract with the club.
Comfortable at playing in the centre, fly half, on the wing and at full-back, Le Bourgeois provides both versatility and skill to the Bedford Blues squad and his efforts were rewarded last season when he was named club captain.
Meanwhile, Cooper, 27, is enjoying his second spell with the Blues having previously played for the club between 2012 and 2014 when he joined London Welsh. He learnt his trade under former Blue, Mike Guess, at Cambridge RFC, for whom he made his debut in 2008 before making the move to Goldington Road in January 2012.
During his first stint at the club, Cooper has made more than 50 appearances and helped the Blues reach the 2012/13 Championship final.
The news comes on the same day that it was revealed Christian Judge will be joining the Cornish Pirates next season.
Rayer commented: “Christian leaves with our very best wishes and we look forward to him contribution fully between now and the end of the current campaign.”