Robbi Kempson Committed To Building EP Rugby

EP Kings Rugby Academy manager Robbi Kempson has confirmed his belief in the future of rugby in the province in the wake of recent media reports regarding Saru’s withdrawal of funding.  Kempson said the academy, which is based at NMMU’s human movement sciences department in Port Elizabeth, was not in danger of closing and had an important role to play as a talent pipeline for the provincial side.  He said the academy’s logistics had, until recently, been funded by the national lottery and channelled through Saru:  ‘That funding has come to an end and Saru now has to take up the funding.’

He said the Southern Kings’ inclusion in Super Rugby for 2016 meant they would receive additional revenue for television rights, which in turn would assist in funding the academy through the franchise:  ‘The academy and the university have a joint venture with regards to contracting of players into the junior structures.’  Most of the academy members were NMMU students, who turned out for the institution’s Madibaz Young Guns and Varsity Cup teams, he said.  Kempson added:  ‘Going forward the academy and NMMU underage groups’ structure will be a combined one, ensuring a sustainable base of NMMU and EP rugby players throughout the player conduits, be it Varsity Cup or provincial.’

The existing structures have already paid dividends with Kempson coaching the Madibaz Young Guns to a massively improved third place at this year’s Varsity Cup.  Most of those players also turn out for the EP Under-19 team, who have won all four of their matches thus far in the A-section of this year’s Currie Cup.  Kempson says:  ‘They’ve beaten the Bulls and Western Province along the way and have really shown a determination to prove that their skill will match any size opposition teams.’

The former Springbok prop said it was very important to provide a conduit for the players to take part in competitions like Varsity Cup and perform against their peers to bridge the gap between underage group rugby and professional teams.

Photo credit:: Mike Holmes