Described by some as, “The worst kept secret in Bedford”, the Goldington Road faithful have been rewarded with an early announcement of a morale-boosting signing heading into the 2022/23 season.
Former Bedford Blues captain, Michael Le Bourgeois left for Premiership side Wasps in 2018 after making 124 appearances for Mike Rayer’s side but is now making a return in a player-coach capacity.
Le Bourgeois is one of Bedford’s ultimate rugby success stories, having made the journey from National League One all the way to England Rugby’s top tier, proving that the second and third tiers can provide a valuable stepping stone to a successful career.
From the third tier to the Premiership
He started out with Jersey Reds in 2008, helping them win promotion to the Championship from the third tier, in which they are now challenging towards the top of the table on a regular basis.
His impressive form helped secure a move to Goldington Road in 2013 and he spent five years at the club including two as captain in a hugely influential spell at the Blues.
From there, a well-deserved move to the Premiership transpired with Wasps where he made 71 appearances but Le Bourgeois is now excited to be making a Goldington Road return.
“I’ve missed the buzz of a Goldington Road matchday; everyone always says it, but it really is true, the Blues family are the best supporters in the league and I can’t wait to be running out in-front of everyone again next season.
“It’s an exciting prospect to be back in Bedford with my first foray into coaching to coincide with things on the pitch.
“I’m looking forward to working with Mike, Sean and Sharpy next season, all of whom I know from my first spell which will again help with the transition.”
Le Bourgeois’ spell as captain led to the Blues finishing third in 2017/18 and he is also a three-time Championship Dream Team inductee, securing his place as one of the Blues’ finest signings of the 21st century.
“He’s got a good few years left in him”
Director of Rugby, Mike Rayer is also understandably delighted to welcome Le Bourgeois back into the fold at Goldington Road.
“First and foremost, “Booj” the player can add so much to the team. He knows the game inside out and really understands the defensive part, particularly playing for a really good club at the moment in Wasps.
“There are still a few good years left in him on the field and I’m really looking forward to us working together next season both as a player and leader, but in a defensive capacity with a bit of coaching as well.
“I’ll be looking to develop him. He’s got time to decide what he wants to do after rugby; this gives him a chance to dip his toe into the coaching scene as well as continue his career.”
Le Bourgeois is the 15th player to commit to the new season, with a large part of last year’s squad signing new terms alongside another new signing in Charles Rylands.
Rylands begins his professional career at the Blues after graduating from Cardiff Metropolitan University and will add another option in the back row, and will hope to benefit from Le Bourgeois’ experience.