Kempson appointed high performance manager at ambitious Kings

15 March 2019 - 11:01
By Craig Ray
Robbie Kempson during the match between South Africa and England from Newland Stadium on July 04, 1998 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Tertius Pickard / Gallo Images Robbie Kempson during the match between South Africa and England from Newland Stadium on July 04, 1998 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Former Springbok prop Robbie Kempson has been appointed as high performance director at the Southern Kings‚ in the first significant appointment after the franchise announced new ownership last week.

Last week a consortium of local business people grandly called The Greatest Rugby Company in the Whole Wide World (Pty) Ltd (GRC) bought a 74% stake in the Southern Kings for approximately R45m.

With their cash injection‚ there appears to be a whole new approach to running the organisation professionally. Kempson will be a key cog in the wheel.

Kempson‚ 45‚ successfully ran the Eastern Province Academy until funds dried up in 2017‚ but that vital feeder of talent will be resurrected under GRC’s ownership. He has also recently been a coaching consultant at the Kings.

The position puts Kempson in charge of recruitment of quality playing personnel‚ overseeing coaching structures and establishing a high-performance rugby academy.

“Our first goal is to get the flagship team [Southern Kings in PRO 14] going well and then filter down to the lower structures‚” Kempson told TimesLive.

“We have to get the Kings team flying and then build below it. We need to rebuild our relationship with the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and get hem back into Varsity Cup from the Varsity Shield.

“We also have a ‘bring them home‚ keep them home’ philosophy by getting some top former EP players back and keeping our rising talent here.

“Under GRC this is a long-term commitment – it’s not a three year thing‚ but a 10-year plan.”

Kings chairperson Loyiso Dotwana said: “Robbie Kempson is a widely-respected professional in rugby circles and is known for his extensive knowledge of the game‚ having played rugby at the highest level‚ and for his immense role in the nurturing of young talent from this province.

“It was therefore a natural decision to appoint one of the sons of the Eastern Cape province to this important role.

“Our business model will enable the pooling of resources and talents to operate a smaller but professional high-performance team‚” Dotwana said. “Ultimately our organisation will reflect what South African businesses can become and should be.

“We are playing against the best professional clubs in the world and need to significantly up our game to ensure that we are formidable competitors. This is all about playing quality rugby.”

The Kings also confirmed that Deon Davids would remain as head coach of the PRO 14 side‚ with his contract running until May 2020.

“We expect next season to be very different. Just like in business‚ we are also ambitious with the results that we expect on the field‚” Dotwana said.

“The groundwork to ensure that we achieve our targets is already under way for the season. We will be doing everything possible to source the best possible talent to strengthen the core base of the team.

“This will be balanced with high-potential local talent within the current team and also other emerging players.”