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Thursday Apr 23, 2015

Schalk Burger awarded Comeback of the Year at the 2015 Laureus Awards

Schalk Burger awarded Comeback of the Year at the 2015 Laureus Awards

Springbok and Stormers superstar Schalk Burger has won the 2015 Laureus Comeback of the Year award for his exceptional achievements on and off the rugby pitch. You can read more about his inspirational story below, then watch the a touching video documenting his incredible journey over the past few years, and his remarkable return to topflight rugby. 

Established in 1999, the Laureus Awards are essentially the sports equivalent of The Oscars. Nominees come from all over the world in a variety of disciplines, each with their own story and background that justifies their nomination.

This year Schalk Burger was recognised for his inspirational journey from international rugby player to hospital patient fighting for his life, and then climbing back to the top.

“Oustanding workrate,” “unparallelled desire,” “phenomenal strength,” – all are terms often heard to describe the playing style of the South African flanker.

Accompanied by his humble nature off the pitch, Burger is admired as a true gentleman of the sport, encapsulating the ethos of rugby. Fortunately, his never say die attitude on the pitch is the same mindset that would see him through the months of ongoing health complications, starting in early 2013.

After genuine fears for his life, with his family by his side, the Springbok warrior fought back from bacterial meningitis, a coma, and four invasive procedures to remove the cyst on his spine which had caused the problems to begin with.

All in all he would spend 6 weeks in hospital and a further 8 weeks recovering indoors.

With a professional opinion that his rugby career was certainly over – Burger set about proving that wrong.

Now, just over two years since his initial diagnosis, Burger has played his 100th Super Rugby match and competed once again on the world stage for the Springboks, with the next goal to being selected for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

South African Rugby Union chief executive, Oregan Hoskins, offered his words in recognition of Burger’s resolve. “What Schalk has gone through in the last couple of years and what he has achieved makes it one of the most inspirational sporting stories in our recent history.

“I would like to congratulate him on this amazing achievement.”

Below is the moving nomination video that was used at the awards to present his remarkable journey, with contributions from his wife, family, friends and Schalk himself. It goes some way towards trying to imagine just what he has accomplished after coming so close to losing it all.

On page 2 there is a fascinating interview with the man himself from his appearance on Rugby HQ last year, as well as a touching clip of him accepting his award in fitting humble fashion. 

credit: Bigsky Productions

credit: Rugby 365/Fox Sports Australia 


  • kadova
    7:15 PM 24/04/2015

    I suppose you're talking about this ?

  • welshosprey
    11:15 AM 24/04/2015

    True gentleman of the sport? You cannot be serious.

  • katman
    10:31 AM 24/04/2015

    I used to think that too. But lately he's been playing like he's been hanging out with the Harlem Globetrotters. Pinpoint flick-ons, back-hand offloads and through-the-legs passes. Plus he's back to winning turnovers at rucks too, which helps if you're selected as an openside flank.

  • mattmon10
    8:40 AM 24/04/2015

    He brings that something extra. Although possibly not the most technically gifted player, his passion and presence on the pitch offer so much to the entire team.

  • katman
    7:59 AM 24/04/2015

    True legend. I hope he's in our WC squad. Very tough competition for a starting spot in the back row with Alberts, Louw, Vermeulen, Coetzee and now also guys like Whiteley, Carr, Brussouw and Kolisi. But he's the type of guy who really lifts players around him in big games.

  • 2:42 AM 24/04/2015


  • elvis15
    6:13 PM 23/04/2015

    Certainly a good story to see his return to form, and I'm sure many players around the world - even opponents - are glad to see him recover.


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Schalk Burger awarded Comeback of the Year at the 2015 Laureus Awards | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos