Schalk Burger has spoken about the moment he was approached for an autograph in 2006 by a wide-eyed kid who went on to skipper the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2019. Burger, who himself won a World Cup in 2007, made nothing of the request at the time. As a star Test player at the time, he was regularly asked to sign autographs.
However, speaking in an interview in support of the Chris Burger and Petro Jackson Players Fund, the now-retired back row revealed how he was approached many years later in the dressing room by Siya Kolisi holding a picture of their long-ago initial encounter.
The 2006 Springboks – including Burger – were training at Kolisi’s school, Grey High, in preparation for their Test against Scotland at the Boet Erasmus in Port Elizabeth, a match they won 29-15. “That photo came up many years later and Siya Kolisi came to me in the dressing room and said: ‘Schalk, this is me,’” Burger revealed.
“He [Kolisi] moved to Cape Town in 2010 and because we play in the same position (back row) we ended up spending a lot of time together.
“I spent a lot of time working with Siya. In those days he sat on the (Stormers and Western Province) bench behind Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and myself. He was the super-sub.
“It is not often you see photos like that going around. The latter part of my career I played a lot with Siya in the same loose trio. It is phenomenal to see his development.”
Reflecting on multiple career highs and lows, Burger also shared recollections of his scariest moment, his near-death experience in 2013 with bacterial meningitis, and he also opened up about the infamous Kamp Staaldraad that broke the spirit of the Boks squad prior to the 2003 World Cup. “The whole atmosphere and the spirit of the team were just broken,” he said.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now