Belfast Telegraph

Move to inferior stadium is an insult to Ulster and Pro 14, blasts Kempson


By Adam McKendry

Former Ulster prop Robbi Kempson believes the Southern Kings have insulted Ulster by moving tomorrow's Guinness PRO14 clash to the Isaac Wolfson Stadium.

The Port Elizabeth-based franchise announced last week that they were moving the game from their usual home of the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, where they faced Leinster, to the much smaller venue.

Announcing the move, the Kings claimed they wanted to take rugby to new communities, however many suspect the real reason was down to poor attendances early in the season.

And Kempson, who played his rugby in Belfast for two years between 2002 and 2004, believes they have disgraced the league with this decision.

"I think it's an insult to the Guinness PRO14 and to Ulster themselves," the former Springbok told the Belfast Telegraph. "They're taking it to a 6,000-capacity stadium which isn't worthy of professional rugby in my opinion.

"It's unfortunate for me because we have a magnificent World Cup stadium that it could have been played in and Ulster could have enjoyed the experience.

"It's one thing taking it to the community, but from a South African perspective you have to show this is an international competition that has been around for a long time.

"There will be more support there as it's within walking distance of most of the crowd but, from the perspective of playing in an international competition, I don't think the ground is up to it."

Despite the poor choice of venue, Kempson believes it's going to be an exciting match-up between the two sides as the Kings look to break their PRO14 duck.

Being a former front row, the 43-year-old thinks the South Africans' burly pack could make life difficult for the visitors, who will be hoping to head into the international break by banking five points.

"There's no doubt the Southern Kings' pack will be physical, I think they showed against Glasgow they can front up, they have a few heavy knockers there," Kempson stated. "They are a little bit light in the backs, but they do have two big centres and you'd expect them to try and take the ball up and gain momentum through them.

"From a Kings point of view they're going to have to keep it very tight, although their fly-half, Oliver Zono, he's more of a playmaker so it'll be interesting to see what sort of tactics they bring.

"Either way it'll be a very entertaining game, particularly with the way the two sides play rugby."

Belfast Telegraph

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