North Walsham have added the vastly experienced Steve Pope to their coaching team ahead of the new season in National League 2.

Pope - like new director of rugby Niall Lear a level four coach - comes in as forwards coach.

“Steve’s appointment is great news,” said director of rugby operations Seb Anthony.

“We’re putting together a very strong coaching group, one of the strongest in the league. Steve’s CV speaks for itself, he’s highly regarded in the rugby world, bit of a legend. Very charismatic and knowledgeable, he's another great communicator with a history of developing players and teams at our level and above.”

A prop with 250 appearances at National One and Championship level, Pope’s playing career spanned the amateur and professional eras, taking in Wasps, Blackheath, London Welsh and Swansea.

He began coaching at Blackheath in 2003, becoming director of rugby three years later, before moving on to Bishop’s Stortford in 2010, where he led their promotion into the National Leagues. That same year he became rugby professional at Reed’s School in Cobham, Surrey where he has worked for the past 13 years.

After five years at Bishop’s Stortford he then joined local club Cobham as director of rugby, overseeing promotion into what is now Regional 2 Thames where they have remained a competitive force throughout his tenure. He’s been a RFU coach educator for over a decade, mentoring, assessing and accrediting coaches - experience North Walsham will use as they look to build the quality of coaching throughout the club.

Pope is moving to Norfolk to become head of rugby at Langley School and the 50-year-old sees the opportunity to combine the two roles as “the perfect opportunity".

"I’ve long admired North Walsham, consistently punching above their weight nationally from an area which isn’t a hot bed of rugby," he said.

"The club has a great feel about it, but also a great vision - a long-term plan built around community links and partnerships with the UEA, colleges and schools, both state and independent. I’m really excited about being part of that.”