Braai with the Springboks

By Dan Lombard

The third week of June 2017 proved to be a very special one for the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund as a series of activities unfolded for Rugby’s Caring Hands.

The week kicked off with the “Play the Bounce Braai with the Boks” proudly made possible by our friends at BrightRock, a life insurance company who’s packages change as your life does. BrightRock backs the Players’ Fund and what they do wholeheartedly according to Executive Director, Suzanne Stevens.

“What the Players Fund does is so in line with what we strive to do, help people adapt to significant changes in their lives and be there every step of the way. So it is a pretty obvious decision to support an organization such as the Players’ Fund,” said Stevens.

Cafe Cru at Montecasino hosted the braai and what a stellar job they did as they married simplicity and sophistication harmoniously, blending the casualness of a good old South African braai with the formality of the importance of the night.

Excellent music, good humour and delicious food were the flavours of the evening as guests and the Springboks thoroughly enjoying themselves throughout the occasion.

“Looking at how much my fellow Springbok players are enjoying themselves, I honestly believe I can speak on their behalf and say that tonight’s braai could not have gone any better,” said Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle.

“Tonight provided something different for us and I know, especially for the younger players in the team, formal fundraising dinners can be quite stiff and uncomfortable but that was definitely not the case tonight which added a different element to such a serious cause.” he added.

The Players’ Fund was well represented on the night with chairman Morné du Plessis, Gail Baerecke (General Manager), Tori Gardner (Event and Marketing Coordinator) as well as trustees Tiaan Strauss, Clint Readhead and George Rautenbach.

The Players Fund also invited recipients Dan Lombard and Gerhard Swarts to the evening where they assisted in various ways.

Dan appeared on The Dan Nicholl Show where he spoke about the Players Fund, his injury and his journey as a quadriplegic sports journalist while Gerhard accepted a cheque of R50 000 on behalf of the Players’ Fund from the MyPlayers organization.

Part of the night’s fundraising was used the very next day to allow 50 U15 Vuka rugby players from across Gauteng the opportunity to attend the “My Training Day with the Springboks”.

The next generation of potential Springboks were put through their paces by SA Rugby Legends Stefan Terblanche, Pieter Muller and Ian McIntosh as well as members of the current Springbok squad at Fourways High School.

The youngsters throughly enjoyed the afternoon as they hung onto everything their Springbok mentors said and after the training was done, rushed off to get something for their heroes to sign.

Thami Sunduza, a learner from Caiphus Nyoka Secondary in Benoni, walked away from the training session even more inspired to follow in the footsteps of his hero Bryan Habana.

“Today has made me realise that there is nothing more that I want in life but to play rugby for South Africa. It was fun to pass, kick and train with my heroes and one day I want to return to something like this as a Springbok and help young players like me to become better,” he said.

The dust may have settled on an amazing week in Johannesburg for the Players’ Fund but the year is not done and there is one more fundraising event to go as the Players’ Fund continues to raise funds for catastrophically injured rugby players.