Springboks player ‘shattered’ over opponent’s injury

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  • <B>On-field incident:</B> South Africa rugby player Robbie Kempson is &#145;absolutely shattered&#146; by the injury suffered by US player Leif Gibson during World Classic match between the two teams at the weekend.

    On-field incident: South Africa rugby player Robbie Kempson is ‘absolutely shattered’ by the injury suffered by US player Leif Gibson during World Classic match between the two teams at the weekend.

  • Injured: American rugby player Leif Gibson is taken to an ambulance by stretcher at the World Rugby Classic on Saturday.

    Injured: American rugby player Leif Gibson is taken to an ambulance by stretcher at the World Rugby Classic on Saturday.


The South African rugby player arrested over an alleged assault on the World Classic pitch said he feels “absolutely shattered” about the serious injury suffered by the American player involved.

However, Robbie 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”.

Mr Kempson, a 38-year-old prop, spent 12 hours in police custody after being arrested over what police described as an “off ball assault” on fly-half Mr Gibson during Saturday night’s match at the National Sports Centre.

According to US Eagles team manager Tim Kluempers, the players were “way off the ball” when a South African player allegedly ran into Mr 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 Mr Gibson, who was on his first tour with the US team, “will probably never play rugby again” as a result of the injury.

Mr Kempson told The Royal Gazette yesterday that he’d been released on police bail while a senior prosecutor reviews the case file. He must return to the police station tomorrow to find out what will happen. He will not participate in the rest of the tournament, which will see South Africa play Argentina tonight 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 Mr 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.”

Mr 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 teammates 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 Mr Kempson has been caught up in such an incident on the pitch. In 2003, Australian vice-captain Toutai Kefu suffered spinal concussion after being tackled high and late by him during Australia’s Tri-Nations victory over South Africa. Mr Kempson was suspended for four weeks.

Having received treatment at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital after Saturday’s clash, Mr Gibson was fitted with a brace and flew home to Houston yesterday for further medical attention. US manager Mr Kluempers said the player was “not up to” speaking to the media yesterday.

“He’s in some pain and packing and trying to get the hell out of here,” he explained.

He added that Mr Gibson has urged his team to play on in the tournament and try to beat France, who they meet in the plate semi-final tonight.

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Published Nov 14, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm)

Springboks player ‘shattered’ over opponent’s injury

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