Hougaard will be joining forces with his former coach, Heyneke Meyer, at Welford Road after signing a three-year deal with the English giants. The Blue Bulls released him from his contract, which ran until 2011, to make the switch.
"I think it is a wonderful chance to test myself against the best players in the Northern Hemisphere. I would like to play for the Bulls again in the future, but I am looking forward to working with Heyneke and competing in the Heineken Cup," said Hougaard.
"Heyneke always had the ability to get the best out a player and ever since I was young he backed me. It goes without saying that he had an enormous influence on my career.
"I've been blessed to play in quite a number of Currie Cup finals, as well as being part of a winning Super 14 team, and I guess I don't always realise how fortunate I have been."