A new eight-year deal worth more than £225m has been agreed between the Rugby Football Union and Premiership clubs – with England getting more flexibility and greater player access in return.
Clubs will earn more for releasing players for international duty, as well as meeting the English-qualified players target and academy standards.
England will get two more training camps a season and larger elite squad.
“This is a true partnership,” said RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie.
“[It is] focused on making English rugby the best in the world for club and country.”
The agreement is worth more than double the previous one, which was signed in 2007, and will give England greater flexibility in selection, with the Elite Player Squad (EPS) expanded from 33 to 45 players, while during core periods 36 players can be selected for camps rather than 33.
South Africa Rugby has welcomed Ilhaam Groenewald as their first female Executive Council member.
Groenewald, along with the returning Monde Tabata as independent member of the Exutive Council, were elected last week and will attend their first meeting of the newly constituted Exco in Cape Town.
Groenewald succeeds Mputumi Damani as one of two independent members of the 12-person Executive Council. Damani was warmly thanked for his contribution since being elected in 2011.
“My passion is sport management and development so when I was asked if I was happy to have my name put forward, I had no hesitation,” said Groenewald.
“You cannot work in sports administration in the Western Cape and not know about rugby so I have very good insight into the work that SA Rugby does. I have also received very positive support from Stellenbosch University management,” she added.
The relationship between Rory Lamont and rugby has always been uneasy. When it was good, it was really good: 29 Scotland caps, two World Cups, and stints in Europe’s top leagues with Toulon, Sale and Glasgow.
When it was bad, it was really bad: whispering campaigns about his attitude, 16 operations, “double figure” concussions. By the time the game ran out of uses for him, the feeling was entirely mutual.
Three years ago this week, Lamont announced his retirement. The last of his many injuries, a lower leg fracture from the previous year, hadn’t properly healed and the end came as a relief.
“I was thinking, ‘finally it’s over’. I felt like an animal being put out of its misery. I’d had a miserable year, people questioning my integrity, and I couldn’t wait to crack on with my life and all the amazing things I was going to do.”
Never did he picture becoming a recluse, battling severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Nowhere in the retirement brochure did it say he’d lose 25kg in four months and be unable to stomach solids for a further five. The bit about being so low he hoped he’d be run over by a bus? Not what he’d signed up for either.
I found the article below on a website called rugbybetting.com (See the Link to the original Article by clicking HERE). The article is actually not about betting. It put the racial policy of SA rugby within context of the World Rugby rule book. Interesting perspectives. I thought the rugby-talk readers might enjoy this.
The World Rugby (formerly known as the IRB) rule book on racial discrimination reads as follows:
In terms of By-Law 3 of the IRB rules and regulations, the IRB is compelled to prevent any form of racial discrimination in rugby. IRB Regulation 20 also stipulates that any action which may be construed as racial discrimination will be regarded as misconduct. In terms of By-Law 7, not only is a country’s international team bound to this; the provincial rugby unions resorting under a country’s board must adhere to these principles as well. In terms of By-Law 9.4(r) the IRB may institute disciplinary steps against any rugby body that violates these rules.
Co-Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Councillor Martin Kitts-Hayes and the Chair of the local branch of the Samaritans Peter Benton will plant a tree to remember those lost to suicide in the north east of Scotland.
The tree planting and dedication ceremony will take place in Kellands Park, Inverurie at 12:00pm on Saturday 12th December.
Officials and players from Garioch and Shetland Rugby Clubs are expected to attend the event ahead of their match.
Last year 60 people from the north east of Scotland died by suicide – leaving a lasting impact on families, friends and communities.
Cllr Kitts-Hayes said: “I am honoured to be asked to be a part of this ceremony. It is important, that we offer support to those who have been close to someone who has taken their own life and to raise awareness of suicide to encourage people to seek help.”
Legendary Fijian Sevens rugby player, Waisale Serevi, was moved to tears after winning the International Vets title in Dubai at the weekend.
Serevi played for the J9 Legends team who won the title after beating the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation side.
Former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen is the founder of the J9 Legends and Serevi was honoured to represent the team.
Van der Westhuizen, who played 89 Tests for the Springboks, is stricken by the terminal motor neuron disease (MND).
His J9 Foundation supports research to try to find a cure for MND.
“We were together, everyone was working hard for each other. I have never been so proud in my life as I am winning this for Joost,” Serevi said.
“The side has been here for 3 years, and, having lost in the final twice, I am so happy. I have met Joost’s wish, to win this tournament for him.”
Carlisle United players have offered to help people in their community affected by flooding caused by Storm Desmond.
Tens of thousands of homes across northern England and parts of Scotland are without power after the floods and Cumbria is one of the worst-hit areas.
Carlisle’s players volunteered their services after winning 5 / 0 at Welling on Sunday in the FA Cup 2nd Round.
The club’s home ground, Brunton Park, close to both the rivers Petteril and Eden, has been engulfed by flood water.
All Black greats united to pay tribute to Jonah Lomu with a powerful haka, as thousands of fans packed a memorial service at New Zealand rugby’s spiritual home, Eden Park.
A grim-faced Buck Shelford led more than 20 former internationals in a “Ka Mate” haka while the legendary wing’s casket was carried into a hearse.
Former teammates including Tana Umaga, Justin Marshall and John Kirwan joined the emotional tribute on the same turf that Lomu once dominated as a player.
“Jonah, you were a freak on the field and a gentle, caring giant off it,” former All Blacks coach John Hart said.
Queen Elizabeth II offered her condolences over Jonah Lomu’s death as the rugby legend’s family revealed they were planning a send-off as big as the great man himself.
The family said they had been overwhelmed by a global “outpouring of love” after the charismatic winger died unexpectedly on Wednesday aged just 40, leaving a wife and 2 young sons.
Former All Blacks coach John Hart said feelings were so intense in Lomu’s native New Zealand that Auckland’s Eden Park stadium may be needed as a venue for a public memorial.
Flanked by the player’s relatives outside the family’s Auckland home, Hart said Prime Minister John Key’s office had relayed condolences from the Queen to Lomu’s widow Nadene.
“(She) has written to the prime minister specifically asking for a message to be sent to Nadene and the family to say how much she mourns the loss as well,” he told reporters outside Lomu’s Auckland home.
The South African Rugby Union extended its condolences to the family of legendary Springbok centre John Gainsford, who passed away on Wednesday morning following a long battle with cancer. He was 77.
Gainsford established himself as one of the greatest centres of his generation due to his powerful bursts and rock-solid defence.
He earned 33 Test caps and scored 8 tries during his Springbok career between 1960 and 1967, playing in 71 Springbok matches in total (including tour matches). He remained the most capped Springbok centre until as recently as 2001 when his record was finally overtaken by Japie Mulder.
Gainsford was a world-renowned player, who emerged from the Villagers Rugby Club in Cape Town. He made his Springbok debut on 30 April 1960 against Scotland at the young age of 21 and played his last Test at the age of 28.
New Zealand rugby union great Jonah Lomu has died aged 40.
Lomu, who scored 43 tries in 73 matches for New Zealand between 1994 and 2002, had been diagnosed with a rare and serious kidney condition.
It forced him to quit the game and he had a kidney transplant in 2004, but the organ stopped functioning in 2011.
“Jonah was a legend of our game and loved by his many fans both here and around the world,” said New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew.
“We’re lost for words and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jonah’s family.”
Family spokesman John Mayhew told New Zealand television that Lomu’s death was “totally unexpected” and that he had only arrived back from the UK on Tuesday, after spending time there for the Rugby World Cup.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said: “The thoughts of the entire country are with his family.”
For the 4 coaches of the Rugby World Cup semifinalists – Argentina’s Daniel Hourcade, Australia’s Michael Cheika, New Zealand’s Steve Hansen and South Africa’s Heyneke Meyer – the coming weekend promises to be a defining moment in their careers.
Win and they can look forward to leading their teams out for the Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham Stadium next Saturday, lose and they will be left to prepare for Friday night’s bronze medal match at the Olympic stadium, wondering what might have been.
Hansen summed up the contrast earlier in the week: “You either stand up and be counted or go home. Even worse, you have to play that other game.”
One thing the coaches share is that none had spectacular playing careers – Cheika’s Australia Under 21 caps represent the closest any of them came to international rugby – though all 4 have worked tirelessly as coaches to earn the positions they currently occupy.
England have dropped 2 places to 8th in the World Rugby rankings after their World Cup defeat to Australia at Twickenham.
Only once before, in 2009, have England been as low as 8 on the list. There were times in 2003 and 2004 when they were the No 1 team in the world.
If Scotland were to register 2 more victories at the Rugby World Cup, they could move up and push England even lower. Never, since the rankings began in 2003, have England been outside the top 8. Only 4 other teams – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and France – have maintained a top-8 place since the rankings began.
8 Teams have moved up 1 place in the rankings, which are based on results and the level of opposition.
Under the points exchange system used to calculate rankings, sides take points off each other based on the match result – whatever 1 side gains, the other loses. Such points exchanges are doubled during Rugby World Cup to recognise the unique importance of this event.
4 Nations have dropped down: Wales by 1 place from 2 to 3, Ireland by 1 from 4 to 5, England by 2 from 6 to 8, and Samoa by 4 from 11 to 15.
The 8 risers, all by 1 place, are Australia to 2nd, South Africa to 4th, France to 6th, Argentina to 7th, Japan to 11th, Tonga to 12th, Italy to 13th and Georgia to 14th.
The late former South African state President Nelson Mandela had been, posthumously, inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
The special ceremony took place at St James’ Park in Newcastle on Saturday, before the Springboks’ 34 / 16 victory over Scotland in a World Cup Pool B match.
World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset presented the coveted Hall of Fame cap to the Deputy Minister of Sport and Recreation, Gert Oosthuizen and Francois Pienaar, captain of the South Africa team that won the Rugby World Cup of 1995 on home soil.
Lapasset said: “The World Rugby Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great game.
The teams have been announced for the “world’s oldest varsity match”, which returns home today.
The Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews will contest at men’s and women’s first XV level on the international pitch at BT Murrayfield, with a crowd of more than 10 000 expected.
Their 2nd and 3rd 15s will also meet on the stadium’s back pitches.
The match – which pre-dates the battle between light and dark blues down south and which has attracted sponsorship from the Royal Bank of Scotland – pits 2 of the founder members of the Scottish Rugby Union against each other.
St Andrews are the current holders of the men’s trophy having triumphed on the last 2 meetings, when the fixture was contested at Richmond Athletic Ground as a means of connecting with Alumni in the London area.
Rugby World Cup debuts galore as Scotland’s tournament finally gets underway. After the group opened with a Double B (that’s a Bucking Belter) in Brighton will we have a Grand Guignolin Gloucester?
Only 4 players remain from Scotland’s last Rugby World Cup match, a 16 / 12 defeat to England in Auckland in 2011, with Ross Ford the only player in the same position for both games.
Japan bring 6 players into their starting line-up as they try to back up their stunning victory over former champions, South Africa. The Japanese bench features a 6 forwards to 2 backs split, which suggests they expect Scotland to try and overpower them up front and reinforcements will be required.
Twenty-five greats of the game whose careers spanned 3 centuries have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Wembley on Sunday at 18:00 SA Time (17:00 BST, 16:00 GMT)
Players from 7 different countries and a wide array of backgrounds were honoured at a special presentation in the Spirit of Rugby lounge at Wembley Stadium before the eagerly awaited Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool C match between New Zealand and Argentina.
From the pioneering 19th century Welsh tactician Gwyn Nichols to Rugby World Cup winners in Australian centre Tim Horan and South African scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen, the latest induction list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of rugby.
18 Captains of their countries are included. Irishman Fergus Slattery and Mervyn Davies are 2 of the names that ‘The voice of rugby’ Bill McLaren, the only non-international to feature in the latest Round of inductions, once reeled off in his unforgettable BBC commentaries.
Twice-capped coaching guru Carwyn James is 1 of 7 Welshmen to be inducted, while South Africa have 5 representatives. England, Ireland and Scotland have 3 apiece and 2 each from France and Australia make up the 25.
The winners of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday 31 October 2015 will receive, with glee, the Webb Ellis Cup.
That is the name the handsome cup carries – the Webb Ellis Cup.
It is a bit of a misnomer. It is named after a clergyman, the Reverend William Ellis, who died in 1872, but was credited with starting the rugby game in 1823.
The crediting happened 68 years after Ellis left Rugby School and 23 years after he died.
There is no record of his having played the game, certainly not of being its founder. His middle name was Webb, his mother’s maiden name, but his older brother was plain, Thomas Ellis.
The Cell C Sharks will play in a commemorative jersey when they tackle DHL Western Province in a Currie Cup clash at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday.
This year the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union celebrates its 125 year anniversary, and in celebration of this proud milestone, the Sharks have opted to alter their kit for the game against WP.
According to the Sharks, the design of the jersey will have a striking resemblance to the 1st ever Currie Cup jersey the old Natal played in.
Thomas du Toit will pack down at loosehead prop for the Sharks against WP after he recently declared that his preferred position is tighthead. Du Toit believes that his physique is better suited to anchoring the scrum, although he wasn’t out of place at loosehead prop. Du Toit has been playing tighthead since his school days, however his selection at loosehead this week means that he is still being used as a utility prop much like Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane.
The 79-year-old All Black great who was missing in London has been found and taken to hospital.
Terry Lineen, who was a midfield back in the 1950s, went missing at Heathrow Airport shortly after arriving from Auckland, missing his connection to Edinburgh.
He had been missing since 13:00 BST on Thursday (00:00 Friday NZ Time).
However, on Friday evening (NZ Time) his daughter-in-law Lynne said Lineen had been found by police in Twickenham and was in an ambulance on his way to hospital.
Her post on Facebook said Lineen was found at 07:00 BST (18:00 NZ Time) after a member of the public reported seeing a distressed man with a bleeding arm, who they thought had been hurt in a hit and run accident.
International rugby’s ruling body, World Rugby, are expected to sanction an experiment in Wales that will see 6 points being awarded for tries and 2 points for all kicks…
The sports governing body are constantly reviewing the rules in rugby and looking at ways to improve the game and this experiment is expected to promote scoring tries instead taking kicks for points.
The experiement is expected to go ahead in Wales’ 2nd-tier Premiership which is made up of semi-professional teams and includes some of the biggest clubs in the history of the Welsh game and includes Pontypridd, Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport.
Ex Springbok centre and fullback, Ian Robertson, a skilled and determined player from what was then Rhodesia, died on Monday 24 August 2015.
He was only 65 but had been ill for a long time in a battle against leukaemia, ironic for such a fit man who helped so many others to fitness.
He played in 5 Tests for South Africa – not many but then there were not many in the 70’s and it was that much harder for a Rhodesian to be selected.
He 1st became a Springbok in 1974 as part of the rebuilding of the team after the trashing by the 1974 British Lions. He was chosen as a centre and played his 1st Test against France in Toulouse and then his 2nd at Parc des Princes in Paris. The Springboks won both, the 1st one 13 / 4, the 2nd 10 / 8.
In each case his centre partner was Johan Oosthuizen. In 1976 the All Blacks came and Robertson played fullback against them in 2 Tests and centre in 1. The Springboks won the series 3 / 1. He also played for a World XV against Cardiff that year.
Robertson was Rhodesia’s Sportsman of the Year in 1976.
We desperately try to stay clear of political content here on Rugby-Talk.com, however this week, after the loss by the Springboks to Los Pumas in Durban, it appears that another mini-storm has been brewing regarding the inclusion or non-inclusion of non-white players (such an ugly term in a new and supposedly democratic South Africa) in the Springboks.
Firstly it was reported that 5 Black Springboks (yet another unfortunate term in the new South Africa) have apporached trade union Cosatu about being sidelined in Test matches for the Springboks.
Then of course Cosatu, as we have come to know their standard methodology, responded about the supposedly racist choices of SA Rugby, condemning it and shouting from the rooftops.
Then there was the logical retort from SARU… not that it cleared matters up at all.
The Minister of Sport & Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, also jumped on board this discussion and seemed to be “the voice of reason” in this rather unfortunate circumstance, saying that South Africans must be patient with the pace of transformation in rugby in South Africa. From my side a small thank you to the Minister – good on you!
These political shannanigans always build on the discourse in South African traditional politics and fuel the devide, in stead of bringing harmony to this nation with so many possibilities.
I guess what I am asking myself, through all of this, is which other logical first choice Black Springboks merited 1st choice selection above their not so black peers?
Do we want the best team out there or do we want transformation tokens in our Springbok side?
To me it’s simple… do the transformation thing, but for goodness sakes, allow the Springbok coach to select the best Springbok squad out there, based on merit and merit alone, whether that squad only consists of White Springboks or only of Black Springboks or of a smattering of one and the other… the rest is immaterial to me!
Retired All Black Andrew Hore is facing a firearms charge, for the 2nd time.
The 36-year-old Hore will appear in the Alexandra District Court on Tuesday – where he will be charged with supplying a firearm to a non-licensed holder following an accident on the 1st weekend of duck shooting season.
A police spokesman said the charge was laid following an incident on 2 May at Patearoa when a 23-year-old was shot in the elbow.
A number of people had been driving in an all-terrain vehicle when as the ATV went over a rise, the victim fell off, along with 2 firearms.
“As the firearms hit the ground, 1 discharged and shot the man in the elbow.”
The Golden Lions Rugby Union has paid tribute to a former stalwart of the union, Charles Pieterse, who has passed away.
Pieterse played 50 games for the then Transvaal in the 1980s. He also represented the SA Barbarians and played all of his club rugby for Randfontein Rugby Club.
GLRU President Kevin de Klerk expressed his deepest sympathy to Pieterse’s family, on behalf of the union.
New Zealand Rugby have paid homage to the most iconic of All Blacks teams, The Originals, in the design of their World Cup jersey which includes the latest in sporting apparel technology.
Developed with the input of All Blacks management and senior players, the jersey features a special design across the shoulders and chest – inspired by the famous leather yoke which adorned The Originals jersey.
The subtle design change pays respect to the legendary Originals team which toured the United Kingdom, France and the USA in 1905 – 1906 – losing just 1 match on their famous 35-match tour.
South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins on Wednesday congratulated and thanked the Springbok squad involved in the 1995 Rugby World Cup as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their epic World Cup final win in Johannesburg.
The Springboks won their 1st Rugby World Cup on 24 June 1995, beating New Zealand, 15 / 12, in a memorable final played at Ellis Park. The result unleashed a tide of goodwill and nation-building across South Africa, which a year earlier had celebrated democracy after decades of racial segregation.
“We proudly celebrate this day as a rugby family, because this team helped Nelson Mandela unite a country,” said Mr Hoskins. “It was a moment that astonished a nation and provided one of the foundation stones for the country we were to become. It was arguably the greatest day in our rugby history.
“Mr Mandela together with that Springbok team pointed the way to a new future for our people and 20 years later that day still has a massive resonance.
“We continue to salute the 1995’ers for what they achieved as a rugby team and what they meant to a nation.”
Mr Hoskins said it was also a day to remember and honour the legacy of the fallen heroes from that day, President Mandela, the Springbok coach Kitch Christie and flanker Ruben Kruger.
New Zealand Rugby said on Tuesday that cult hero “Stormin” Norman Berryman has died at the age of 42.
Reports said Berryman suffered a heart attack at his home near Perth, Australia, where he settled after his rugby career.
Berryman, a powerful winger, was a fan favourite during a long career in Super Rugby but played just 1 Test for the All Blacks, a 23 / 24 loss to South Africa in 1998.
He was widely considered to be unlucky to miss out on more Test caps but was competing for spots against the likes of Jonah Lomu and Inga Tuigamala.
Berryman also did himself no favours with his outspoken criticism of then All Blacks coach John Hart, who he said “has got a vibe about him that projects negativity”.
He famously walked out of an All Blacks training camp in Auckland and hitch-hiked home to Whangarei after a disagreement with Hart.
All Black legend Jonah Lomu paid tribute to Jerry Collins’ last act of heroism as thousands mourned the ex-New Zealand flank who was killed in a car crash in France.
All Black Chris Masoe had told the funeral service in Wellington that Collins’ dying act was to protect his 3-month-old daughter Ayla in the June 5 crash which killed the player and his partner Alana Madill.
“What they say about how they found him, he was protecting his baby. That’s just typical Jerry. When you talk about putting your body on the line, he did that,” Lomu said.
Masoe said Collins, who was in the back of the car when a bus ploughed into it on a motorway near Beziers, sheltered his daughter with his arms and body when he realised the danger.
“You made it possible for her to have a chance. That is the man you are,” Masoe said.
Hurricanes and All Blacks legend Jerry Collins and his partner Alana Madill have tragically passed away following a car accident in France on Friday morning.
The duo were Beziers when their car was apparently struck by a bus.
The couple sadly passed away while their three-month-old daughter was taken to hospital in a critical condition.
Collins joined Wellington in 1999, earning 85 Super Rugby caps and first receiving a call-up to the All Blacks in 2001. He went on to play 48 Tests before retiring after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
He subsequently joined French club Toulon and Ospreys in Wales before a stint in Japan.
He was 34 years of age.
Tributes have started flowing in from around the rugby world and a moment’s silence will be observed before kick-off between the Hurricanes and Highlanders in Napier on Friday evening.
There is a method to the apparent ‘madness’ of Heyneke Meyer’s approach to the Springboks’ 2015 World Cup campaign.
Spending some time with the Bok mentor at a training camp in Cape Town this week, it became abundantly clear just how much preparation has already gone into South Africa’s campaign.
In fact the Bok coach even investigated the hotel beds the players will encounter during their stay in England in September and October – prompting media banter that the ‘Bok coach is sleeping on the job’.
However, even the massive 40-odd players at the 2 training camps – in Johannesburg last month and Cape Town this week – are part of a carefully orchestrated plan to ensure the Boks have the best possible chance of becoming the 1st country to win the Webb Ellis Cup for a 3rd time.
Meyer said the large squads are all part of his long-term plan, with a lot of the younger players that he can take forward.
Hi rugby friends,
Quite a landmark was hit somewhere today… we went over 15 Million Page Impressions!!!
I never thought, 5 years, 9 months and 20 days ago that Rugby-Talk.com would develop into the beast it has become, not in my wildest dreams!
As of writing this newsletter, we stand on 15 001 740 Page Impressions (since measurement started on 31 October 2009), with 12 520 News Articles PLUS 242 other live Pages and 409 195 Comments. It is a fenominal feat, I am totally gobsmacked feel like jumping over the moon about it.
It takes hard work and dedication and a very real love for Rugby Union to keep the portal going and it takes a loyal en fervent readership, who also love the sport to make it the success it has been for a long time and will continue to be long into the future.
To every author, contributor, user and reader of Rugby-Talk.com, a sincere word of thanks and appreciation, it is deeply felt!
Keep reading, keep commenting and keep supporting not only this website, but the sport we enjoy so much.
He will soon return home to South Africa to focus on his family and his livestock farm, but life after rugby can wait a few more weeks. Bakkies Botha wants to go out in a blaze of glory with Toulon.
With a Rugby World Cup triumph in 2007, 3 Super Rugby championships with the Bulls and 2 European titles with Toulon, not to mention Tri-Nations, Currie Cup and Top 14 honours – few can match the Springbok 2nd row enforcer’s illustrious achievements.
But in the twilight of his career and savouring the prospect ahead of the “calmness of the bush”, Botha, perhaps befitting a deeply religious man, prefers to focus on the team, rather than his individual contribution.
Toulon, the Mediterranean port city he has called home since 2011, hope to be crowned kings of Europe for a 3rd successive year when they take on French rivals Clermont in the European Rugby Champions Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday.
“I’m really happy that I came to Europe to test myself in this league and I want to end my career hopefully making it into 2 finals (Champions Cup and Top 14),” said the 36-year-old lock.
DHL Stormers and Springbok flank Schalk Burger has won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award at the ceremony in Shanghai on Wednesday.
Burger had a cyst next to his spinal cord and went into hospital for treatment, but developed life-threatening meningitis and was taken to intensive care. Miraculously, he battled for his life and returned to the sport he loves to win his place back in the Springbok rugby team.
Reflecting upon the most serious stage in his time in intensive care, Burger said: “I remember the day where my wife phoned and everyone said, listen, this is probably it, it’s time to say goodbye. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.
“It was super scary if you think back now.
“But when you’re going through the middle of this and there’s no time to think really, there’s no time to think about consequences; it was pretty much just me versus something.”
Somewhere, shaking his cauliflower ears in dismay, a grizzled old retired prop was probably secretly wishing someone would just stick the ball up his jumper and make a cautious 3 inches.
For everyone else watching this was surely the most thrilling day that 5 or 6 Nations rugby has seen: a fantasy finale, a chest-squeezer and knee-knocker, a day to fall back in love.
There are the stats: 221 points scored across the 3 matches, the most in a single weekend – 27 tries, run in from deep and wide and everywhere in between.
There was England’s record score against France, Ireland’s biggest away win, the most tries Wales have scored in 1 championship half.
Then there was the style. This was rugby we thought had died and been laid to rest, killed by detailed analysis and the professional urge to be sensible.
Sensible? This was glorious chaos, March madness to put a spring in every watcher’s step and an ulcer in the stomach of every defence coach.