<1R>Harlequins are delighted to announce the signing of South African international hooker Gary Botha. The 25 year-old will join the Club after the forthcoming World Cup and will be at Quins until at least June 2010.
Botha has won nine caps for the Springboks to date, having made his international debut against Australia in 2005. He was ever present in the South African squad that competed in the recent Tri Nations tournament, starting in the matches against New Zealand (23rd June) and Australia (7th July), and is part of their 30-man squad for the World Cup in France.
Before going on to play for the Springboks at test level, earlier in his career Botha won representative honours with South Africa Schools Under 18s and Under 19s, South Africa Under 19s and Under 21s, and South Africa A. Indeed, he was part of the South Africa squad that won the Under 21 World Championship in 2002.
Botha made 16 appearances for the Blue Bulls in this years Super 14s competition, having made his debut in the tournament for The Sharks back in 2002. Last year he captained the Bulls to the Currie Cup Final, a title they shared with the Free State Cheetahs following a 28-all draw in the final.
"I'm really looking forward to playing my rugby at the legendary Stoop," said Botha. "Harlequins are an inspirational Club with a great set of supporters, and I believe this is a move that will develop me as a player."
"Gary is a very talented player and one everyone at Quins is looking forward to working with," said Dean Richards, Harlequins Director of Rugby. "Aside from having the physicality you expect from a hooker he's also very mobile, and for such a young man he has already shown tremendous leadership qualities with his performances for the Bulls in last years Currie Cup."
"I'm very confident Gary will be a huge success in the Guinness Premiership and become a key figure in our squad over the next couple of years."
Harlequins fan Ed Atkin won the Etihad Airways 'Up and Under' competition at the Northampton Saints game. As a result, he and a friend have won a holiday to Abu Dhabi courtesy of Etihad Airways and the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.