Lensing Heads West, Joins Seattle Champions as Head Coach

20-Aug-2019

Seattle, Wash. - The Seattle Seawolves have signed former Rugby United New York forwards coach, Kees Lensing, as head coach for the 2020 Major League Rugby season.

“Kees will help us maintain our leadership position within the league both on and off the field,” said President and Owner Shane Skinner. “We are excited to have him join our family.”

Over the course of his career, Lensing has coached and played on six different continents. Lensing hails from Namibia where he began his professional career at age 21, playing for the Northern Free State Griffons for three seasons and then the Eastern Province Kings for two seasons. In 2002, he was selected to play for the Namibian national team and became the first-choice loose head prop for the 2003 IRB Rugby World Cup.

Lensing progressed in the Super Rugby competition, signing with the Vodacom Blue Bulls in 2004. He played 47 matches in two years for them, including helping the Bulls win the Currie Cup, and was named to the Super Rugby Super XV twice. He moved to the United Kingdom to play a season for Yorkshire Carnegie, then returned to South Africa and Super Rugby to play three seasons for the Sharks in 2006.

Lensing then returned to the Namibian national team, where he led the team as captain in the 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup. In 2008, Lensing moved to France to play three seasons for Castres Olympique. He continued playing for the Namibian national team but retired from international rugby after he helped them qualify for the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup with 24 test matches played. 

“Our scrum and Seawall defense were pivotal in our back-to-back title success. Bringing in a coach who understands the cultural aspects of the international game and how to maximize a dominant scrum and game-winning defense will be essential in our pursuit for a third championship,” said Adrian Balfour, Seattle Seawolves Board Member and General Manager.

Lensing returned to South Africa and transitioned to coaching in 2011, coaching for the Investec International Rugby Academy and eventually becoming the head coach of the Limpopo Bulls’ U-21 side and the Blue Bulls’ Tuks Rugby Academy.

His impressive coaching record won attention from the Canon Eagles in the Japanese Top League, and in 2015, Lensing signed on as their scrum, defense, and breakdown coach for three seasons. Lensing’s coaching helped the Eagles place 6th out of 16 Top League teams in 2016 and five of the forwards under his tutelage were selected to the Japanese national team during the 2017 season.

Lensing, like many, was drawn to the United States for a Major League Rugby (MLR) opportunity. He joined 2019 league addition Rugby United New York (RUNY) in 2018 and helped create a staunch forward pack. RUNY placed 4th overall in their first season, trailing the Toronto Arrows by just three points in the overall rankings. Lensing’s defensive expertise and forward knowledge showed, as RUNY tied with San Diego Legion for least points conceded for the season, winning 89 mauls (1st), 1,394 rucks (2nd), and 171 lineouts (1st), and 91.7% of their own scrums (4th) last season. 

Lensing brings a player-centered coaching style and emphasis on technical skills to the reigning champions. His international experience and focus on dominating through our forward pack and defensive system will steer the Seawolves’ in the ever-strengthening MLR competition.

“The Seawolves are the best team in this North American league and when I came to Seattle for the game against RUNY, I was impressed that Seattle had the loudest and most enthusiastic supporters in the competition,” said Lensing. “Being at Starfire reminded me of when I played for the Bulls with a full stadium of fans supporting back in South Africa. I felt it definitely made a difference in the game and I wanted to be a part of that energy.”

The Major League Rugby season will kick off in February 2020. Seawolves season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at www.seattleseawolves.com.