Kempson 'shattered' by assault
Cape Town - Former Springbok prop Robbie Kempson, who was arrested over an alleged assault during a World Classic match, said he feels "absolutely shattered" about the serious injury suffered by the American player involved.
However, Kempson said the incident which left Leif Gibson with a spinal injury happened during the course of the game, and “I don’t think it should have gone as far as it has”.
Kempson, 38, spent 12 hours in police custody after being arrested over what police described as an “off ball assault” on flyhalf Gibson during last Saturday's match at the National Sports Centre in Bermuda.
According to US Eagles team manager Tim Kluempers, the players were “way off the ball” when Kempson allegedly ran into Gibson's back from behind. He said the tackle was “not necessary”, which is why the alleged assault was reported to the police. He fears that 34-year-old Gibson, who was on his first tour with the US team, “will probably never play rugby again” as a result of the injury.
Kempson told The Royal Gazette website
on Tuesday that he’d been released on police bail while a senior prosecutor reviews the case file. He will not participate in the rest of the tournament, which will see South Africa play Argentina on Wednesday in a bid to reach the championship final.
He said: “The incident that happened was in the general course of a rugby game. I don’t think it should have gone as far as it has.”
He said of the injury suffered by Gibson: “I feel absolutely terrible. It’s an absolute tragedy. Unfortunately it’s a contact sport and injuries do happen. I have had a back fusion myself and three neck operations so I understand what the player is feeling. It’s a terrible incident that happened and I feel absolutely shattered about it. Hopefully he’s doing better and will be fine when he gets back to the United States.”
Kempson said the Bermuda Police Service were “outstanding” in the way they handled the incident and he has had a “lot of support” from his own team-mates and other players involved in the Classic.
South Africa coach Pieter Muller said the team could not make any further statement until a decision has been made by prosecutors.
It’s not the first time Kempson has been caught up in foul play on the field. In 2003, Australian vice-captain Toutai Kefu suffered spinal concussion after being tackled high and late by Kempson during Australia’s Tri-Nations victory over South Africa. Kempson was suspended for four weeks.
Having received treatment at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after Saturday’s clash, Gibson was fitted with a brace and flew home to Houston for further medical attention. US manager Kluempers said the player was “not up to” speaking to the media.
“He’s in some pain and packing and trying to get the hell out of here,” he explained.
Kempson played 37 Tests for the Springboks in a career which spanned 1998-2003.