OW Spotlight Kai Horstmann

Hardinge '00

Tell us about yourself..

I was Born and raised in Zimbabwe but educated in England. I started playing professional rugby for Harlequins in 2001 before moving to Worcester Warriors in 2005 and Exeter Chiefs in 2012. I enjoyed silverware successes in European Cup, LV Cup, Anglo Welsh Cup and The Premiership. After retiring in 2018, I joined the commercial team at Exeter Chiefs to learn the ‘dark arts’ of elite sport before making the move into the world of property with Burrington Estates in 2020. I currently head up the commercial sales for Burrington Estates with the development of Winslade Park just outside Exeter at the forefront.

What inspired you to want to want to play Rugby professionally?

The 1995 World Cup in South Africa was a pivotal moment. Being a Zimbabwean, I was brought up in awe of the Springboks. Rugby and sport is like a religion in Southern Africa. The troubles South Africa were going through in the early 90’s was enormous. The recently elected president of South Africa Nelson Mandela presenting the Webb Ellis trophy to Francois Pienaar was monumental and a huge factor in inspiring me to want to play pro rugby

As well as being a professional Rugby player, you have also been involved in multiple business ventures, can you tell us more about these?

I opened a Wine retailer in Cheltenham called Tivoli Wines which I sold a few years ago after 6 years. I am really pleased to see it’s still going very well and very proud of what we created. The interest in wine stems from my mother buying a farm in the heartland of the wine route in South Africa …Stellenbosch. It’s a huge wine country and very hard not to be absorbed by it. The world of wine is vast and there will always be a market for independents…. always support them! A hugely enjoyable industry

I have also set up a company called Team-i which focuses on the transferable skills in elite sport and helping businesses implement them. Having spent a number of years researching elite sports teams to understand how they achieved their success, Team-i delivers programmes that show how a business can improve their performance by integrating proven strategies and techniques.

What has been your career highlight so far?

Winning the Aviva Premiership in 2017 was a great moment. I was lucky enough to win the Hong Kong 7s with England when I was young and that too was absolutely amazing, helped largely by the enormous ex-pat community who filled the stadium.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I try not to look too far ahead but my aim is very much to be running my own ship. I see Devon as a long-term home but there is definitely a hunger to experience other countries and cultures. I will always hold Zimbabwe very close to my heart so who knows!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Director of Rugby at Exeter Chiefs Rob Baxter is a hugely inspiring figure, and he has many ways and methods to challenge an individual/team. He is a big one for never looking for excuses but rather to look for opportunities in every moment of the day. How can you better today than you were yesterday?

Do you have a fond memory from your time at Wellington that you would like to share or perhaps a particular teacher that really stood out?

I have so many fantastic memories … most not for print! I forged friends for life. Sometimes months/years can pass before we meet up again and we simply pick up where we left off. There is a special bond. Sport was a huge part of my time at Wellington, so I have very fond memories of Bigside glory, close fought hockey matches and beating Eton 1st XI in cricket for first time in 25 years. Speech day memories were always hugely enjoyable. Whatever your passion, Wellington College would create the platform for you to try and excel at it. I feel incredibly fortunate to have gone to Wellington and will always have the fondest of memories