When a South African rugby player runs onto the field, he does so with a team behind him. So when he finds himself having to adapt to life with a “new normal” after a catastrophic injury, it is once again a team approach needed to lift him up.
In order to ensure that these players are never forgotten, SA Rugby has partnered with the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund to join the team of support behind every one of these players after a life-changing injury. Through hospital visits from professional players, rugby opportunities, an annual grant and the support of their charity banquet, this relationship has allowed The Players’ Fund to play the role of ‘Rugby’s Caring Hands” for over 38 years.
Assistance is granted to players who sustain life-changing head, neck or spinal cord injuries while participating in the game. This is offered psychologically and emotionally to the players and their families, as well as equipping them with necessary mobility equipment.
The Fund was launched by former Chairman, Morné du Plessis and his Western Province team mates in 1980. At the end of 2018, Morné du Plessis and vice-chairman, Frikkie Naudé, stepped down, allowing for new a new chairman and vice-chairman in Jean de Villiers and Hanyani Shimange to lead the organisation into the next 38 years. Morné and Frikkie still remain as active members of the board of trustees. This non-profit, public benefit organization has supported over 500 players since inception and currently has over 107 recipients throughout the country.
In an effort to reduce the incidences of life-changing injuries in this country, a national injury prevention programme was developed in conjunction with the Players’ Fund - BokSmart (www.boksmart.com) which, through nation-wide coach and referee workshop has set an operational standard, which holds player safety at the core of the programme.