|Full name||Schalk Burger|
13 April 1983 |
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
|Height||1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Weight||114 kg (17 st 13 lb)|
|School(s) attended||Paarl Gimnasium|
|University||University of Stellenbosch|
|Relatives||Schalk Burger (father)|
|Current club||Western Province / Stormers|
|2003||South Africa U21||8||(20)|
|* Senior club appearances and points correct as of 26 October 2013.
† Appearances (Points).
His father, also called Schalk Burger, was an international lock, being capped for South Africa during the "isolation years" of the 1980s. Schalk was schooled at Paarl Gimnasium, and enjoyed success in many sports.
After playing for the Under 21 Springbok side that won the U21 Rugby World Cup in 2002 and then captaining it in 2003, Burger was selected for the senior Springbok squad. He made his debut against Georgia in 2003 at the Rugby World Cup and has since carved out a name as one of the best flankers in the world with solid performances in the Super 12, Tri-Nations and Currie Cup. Burger plays club rugby for the Stormers and Western Province.
Burger possesses all the necessary attributes to be a great loose forward. He is quick to the breakdown and has an abundance of stamina; he is rarely rested throughout the Stormers' Super 14 campaigns, South African Test matches or the Currie Cup. He is also a constructive link in open play with his ability to draw defenders and offload. He has been sin-binned more times than any other player (6) since yellow cards were introduced in 2000.
In 2004, Burger was selected as part of a rejuvenated Springbok squad which, under the guiding hand of new coach Jake White, went on to win the Tri-Nations trophy for the first time since Nick Mallett's team managed the feat in 1998.
To cap off a magnificent year, Burger was also awarded the most prestigious rugby player's award, the IRB International Player of the Year award in the 2004 season. In addition, he claimed the 2004 ABSA SA Rugby Player of the Year award.
After an indifferent 2006 Super 14 season, during which Burger showed only flashes of the brilliance that took him to the peak of world rugby, he was to once again start in his favoured number 6 shirt ( openside flanker in South African rugby) in the national team for the upcoming expanded Tri-Nations test series against Australia and New Zealand. However, in the Springboks' Test match against Scotland on 17 June, Burger suffered a serious neck injury. The following day, it was confirmed that he would require cervical fusion surgery and would be out of action for at least the remainder of 2006. The injury and the required surgery were serious enough for White to tell the media, "I don't want to jump to conclusions – but there is a chance he may never play again." Burger's father told a Cape Town radio program that the injury was between his sixth and seventh cervical vertebrae, adding, "Although the operation is difficult the fact that the injury is lower down his neck is good for a future prognosis of making a full recovery." The South African Rugby Union released a statement on 24 June, the date of the surgery, indicating that the surgery was successful and that Burger would undergo six to eight months of rehabilitation, with plans to return him to the game.
2007 and the Rugby World Cup
Following successful surgery and rehabilitation, Burger returned to the Vodacom Stormers line-up on 13 January 2007, playing 55 minutes as the Stormers lost to the Bulls. Despite the loss, Burger did show flashes of the brilliance that took him to the peak of world rugby in 2004–05. After a shaky start to the 2007 Super 14 season, Burger inspired the Stormers to their first win of the campaign against the Chiefs as the Stormers recorded their first points of the season in a tense 21–16 victory at the Newlands Stadium.
During the Springboks' first match of the Rugby World Cup against Samoa, Burger was cited for a high tackle on Junior Polu, and on 11 September was given a four-match suspension which would have in theory kept him out of the team until the semi-final. However, this was reduced to a two-match suspension on appeal.
Burger would return to play a key role in South Africa's World Cup triumph as the Springboks defeated England 15–6 to lift the Webb Ellis trophy and brought it back to South Africa for the second time in four attempts.
In March 2008, Burger was banned for openly abusing a touch judge in a Super 14 game for the Stormers against the Sharks in Durban. The touch judge in question had suggested the referee send Burger to the sin-bin for an offense that the referee hadn't seen. Upon leaving the field, Burger was seen to be gesticulating and shouting at the touch judge. The citing commissioner decided that Burger be banned for two weeks for his actions. After another great season which saw the Stormers finish just short of making the play-offs, Burger was selected by new coach Peter de Villiers for the Springboks' 2008 Tri Nations campaign.
During the opening minute of the second British and Irish Lions test at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Burger made contact with the eyes of Lions winger Luke Fitzgerald. The incident was seen by touch judge Bryce Lawrence who reported it to match referee Christophe Berdos, who awarded a yellow card. Burger was subsequently cited by the commissioning officer for "making contact with the eye area"  and then handed an eight-week ban. A later investigation by judicial officer Alan Hudson concluded that contact with the face was made but there was no intention to gouge Fitzgerald's eyes, but that Burger acted "contrary to good sportsmanship by making contact with the face in the eye area." Burger responded by saying "...I only have the utmost respect for the traditions of the wonderful game of rugby. Through my life and career I have always approached the game with the intention only of playing it hard and fair. I am not a rugby thug and will never intentionally engage in eye gouging or similar illegal actions."
Burger was selected for the 2010 tri nations series as part of the South African squad to play six matches. The first game was against New Zealand on the 10 July 2010 in Auckland. He started that match at blindside Flanker. South Africa lost that match 32-12. But in the second game against New Zealand which South Africa lost 31-17 Burger scored a try. He scored his second and final try of the tournament against New Zealand. The tournament finished with South Africa bottom, Australia second and New Zealand first.
Burger was selected for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He played the first game against Wales which South Africa won 17-16. He played all the matches in group D. South Africa were knocked out however in the Quarter Finals against Australia. He was ruled out of South Africa's Summer tour of England with injury.
Notes and references
- "Burger blow for the Springboks", Planet-Rugby.com, 19 June 2006.
- "Fears for injured Burger's career", BBC, 19 June 2006.
- "Schalk Burger jnr operation successful", South African Rugby Union, 24 June 2006.
- Cain, Nick (29 April 2007). "Player exodus threatens world order". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2007-04-30.
- "Banned Burger out of England game." BBC News online, Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 05:35 GMT.
- "Burger banned for two weeks – Rugby News, Results, Fixtures and Features from". Planet-Rugby.com. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- "Burger back for Boks", Sky Sports, 23 June 2009
- "Bakkies Botha and Schalk Burger Cited", Rugby Breakdown, 28 June 2009
- "Burger: I'm not a thug". Sport24. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
|IRB International Player of the Year