London Welsh have signed former Bedford Blues tighthead prop Ben Cooper, the club's 25th recruit since gaining promotion.
London Welsh have swooped for former Bedford Blues tighthead prop Ben Cooper, the club's 25th confirmed signing since gaining promotion to the Aviva Premiership.
25-year-old Cooper featured three times against Welsh last season in the Championship for Bedford, including the Blues' 28-26 win over the Exiles at Goldington Road in November, which brought him to the attention of London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell.
Cooper learnt his trade under former Blue, Mike Guess, at Cambridge RFC, for whom he made his debut in 2008 before making the step up to the Blues and the Championship in January 2012.
He went on to make more than 50 appearances for the Goldington Road club before re-joining Cambridge for a second spell for the 2014/15 season, only for Welsh to swoop and offer him the chance of Aviva Premiership rugby.
Cooper links up at London Welsh with former Blues team-mate Ricky Reeves.
“Ben is 25-years-old of age, he's a big man and this is a great opportunity for him. Hopefully we can bring the best out of him,” said London Welsh head coach Burnell.
“Ben played against us three times last year and showed huge potential. He started against us at Goldington Road – our first Championship loss of the season – and he certainly caught my eye that day. They disrupted us at the set-piece.
“When we then played them at the Kassam Stadium he didn't start, but when he came off the bench he tightened up their scrum. So there's definitely something there to work with.
“Importantly Ben is also English-qualified and at the moment the biggest problem, and not just for us, is finding English-qualified tight-head props. There doesn't seem to be a great deal of them out there at this moment in time.”
The 2014/15 Premiership season will see Sunday afternoons at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford become synonymous with London Welsh with the club having committed to playing its home games there for the next three years.