Robbie Kempson, a former Springbok prop, was arrested by police in Bermuda over an incident in a match at the World Rugby Classic.
Stefan Terblanche, the CEO of the South Africa Rugby Legends Association, confirmed the incident in an interview with this website.
Terblanche said details of the incident were sketchy, but it is believed the 38-year-old Kempson - who played 37 Tests for South Africa - was arrested "a day or two" after the match, which took place at the weekend.
According to reports from Bermuda Kempson ran into the back of 34-year-old American flyhalf Leif Gibson in an off-the-ball incident.
US team manager Tim Kluempers told Bermuda's Royal Gazette that Gibson "may never play again" as a result of the injury - even though he was up and walking around again.
The American player was taken from the field on a stretcher, taken to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital for treatment and is reportedly still in a neck brace.
Kempson was arrested after Gibson laid charges after the incident - which occurred around 15 minutes into the match at the National Stadium in Devonshire.
South Africa ended up beating the US 43-10 and will play Argentina in the semifinal later on Wednesday. The SA team include other high profile players like De Wet Barry, Bob Skinstad, AJ Venter, Werner Greeff, Egon Seconds, Kennedy Tsimba, Pieter Muller and Lucas Biljon.
Terblanche confirmed that Kempson must report back to the police on Thursday.
They are still investigating the matter and gathering evidence.
The SA Legends CEO described it as a "sad" situation, as the Bermuda tournament is a very popular and long-standing event.
"Robbie [Kempson] is not allowed to take part in the rest of the tournament," Terblanche told this website, adding that they will send the player legal help if he requires any.
"We must first see how the investigation develops," Terblanche said.
A police spokesman told the Gazette that they are investigating a case of assault against Kempson, who runs the Kings' Academy in Port Elizabeth and was the team's forward coach till New Zealander Matt Sexton arrived earlier this year.
"As a result, a man has been arrested in connection with an off ball assault that took place during the USA/South Africa match," the spokesman said.
"Police are appealing for witnesses, specifically anyone who may have video images of the assault, to contact Sergeant Derek Berry on 295-0011."
Rugby Classic President John Kane declined to comment.
Kempson told the Gazette that the incident that happened was in the "general course of the game".
"I don't think it should have gone as far as it has,” Kempson said
“I feel absolutely terrible," he said of the injury suffered by Gibson.
"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 teammates and other players involved in the Classic.
By Jan de Koning
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