As a youngster Schalk Burger played both rugby and cricket but after a rugby injury saw his cricket contract with Boland Academy terminated he received a professional rugby contract and went on to become one of the best and most decorated loose forwards in the game. Burger would follow in his farther’s footsteps going on to represent South Africa on the international stage. Burger’s dad is also named Schalk Burger.
The Paarl Gymnasum alumn said his father had a massive influence on his rugby and as he got older he became a “sounding board for ideas” as well as advice. The times are most definitely different from when his dad, a lock, played rugby in the 1980s and today, but for the loose forward it means a lot to have someone with that experience to give him advise and guidance. Growing up Burger and his family lived on a big property in Wellington where he played a lot of sport especially with his brother “who was very competitive” and would make time to play sport even if it meant bypassing homework for that moment.
Having “achieved quite a bit more” than he expected, one piece of advice received from his dad has stayed with him throughout and driven him, and that is to enjoy it and play for enjoyment above all which has allowed his love for the game to continue. For the former Springbok lock “sport formed part of my children’s education” and for him it was “an added bonus” to bare witness to all their success. Burger Senior was in Paris on that fateful night when his son and his Bok teammates downed England to lift the Webb Ellis trophy which for both Schalk’s was a proud moment to share with each other.
One of a handful of second generation Springboks and a father himself, Schalk Burger Junior would like his children to play sport as a lifestyle choice, however if they decide to pursue a professional career he will be their biggest fan and encourage them continuing the Burger lineage as well as following in his father’s footsteps, once more being a positive influence in his children’s life.