An ‘Old Cat’ Arrives With Houston’s Major League Rugby Season

Houston’s newest sports franchise starts its inaugural season this weekend. The SaberCats are the city’s first professional rugby team. Eddie Robinson spoke with the oldest player on the team about his dramatic effort to make the cut.

34-year-old Kenneth Hepburn coaches high school rugby for the Cy-Fair Warriors, is the athletic coordinator for Arnold Middle School and he's a professional rugby player for the Houston SaberCats.

Last year just before he joined the team, Hepburn nearly died of kidney failure.

He recalls a stranger coming to his aid when he collapsed at a gas station after a SaberCat combine.

"I was actually in the hospital for rhabdomyolysis, which is when your kidneys shut down due to overexertion, said Hepburn. “I was in the hospital for three and a half days. I got back out and I said, ‘I'm going to give it one more go,' because I felt I had more in me. I'm not going to be done yet."


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Hepburn was also instrumental in developing Cy-Fair's school rugby program.

Cy-Fair junior Clayton Crist said Coach Hepburn is like a father to him.

"He's more like a dad to me, a mentor," said Crist. "He's taught me a lot. I started playing last year, but I know I learned a lot more playing with him than I would with other coaches, because he's had insight and he's played a lot more before. And he's such a great coach – he just explains everything so perfectly."

A husband and father to a young daughter, Hepburn has already been given a nickname by his Sabercat teammates: "PETEY!"

"Yeah, as he's affectionately known, ‘Petey's' the "dad" of the team!" said SaberCat flyhalf, Sam Windsor. "He's probably going to hate me for saying that, but he's been looking for something like this for years and I think he's trained hard for many years – to put himself up on the main stage. Fortunately, the SaberCats came to Houston. We knew about Petey early on; he's a cult hero around town and in the rugby circles."

You can catch Kenneth ‘PETEY' Hepburn and the Houston SaberCats kick off their regular season debut against the New Orleans Gold this Saturday, April 21, at Dyer Stadium.

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Eddie Robinson

Eddie Robinson

Executive Producer & Host

A native of Mississippi, Eddie started his radio career as a 10th grader, working as a music jock for a 100,000-Watt (Pop) FM station and a Country AM station simultaneously. While Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus had nominated him for the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, Eddie had an extreme passion...

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