Burger wins Laureus award

2015-04-15 15:42

Cape Town - Stormers and Springbok flank Schalk Burger has won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award at the ceremony in Shanghai on Wednesday.


Burger had a cyst next to his spinal cord and went into hospital for treatment, but developed life-threatening meningitis and was taken to intensive care. Miraculously, he battled for his life and returned to the sport he loves to win his place back in the Springboks rugby team.

Reflecting upon the most serious stage in his time in intensive care, Burger said: “I remember the day where my wife phoned and everyone said, listen, this is probably it, it's time to say goodbye. I wasn't ready to say goodbye.

"It was super scary if you think back now. 

"But when you're going through the middle of this and there's no time to think really, there's no time to think about consequences; it was pretty much just me versus something."

Burger, also a Laureus Ambassador, transferred his ferocious competitiveness from the rugby pitch to the intensive care unit and with the grit and determination he has been known for throughout his career, he overcame his illness in miraculous style.

"The odds weren't on my side, as I gather.  It's probably one that I shouldn't have come out being as normal as I am," he recalled.  But for me, through a bit of luck and I think through a bit of stubbornness, I was able to pull through."

Not only did the 31-year-old pull through and pull on the Springbock jersey once again, he was a key member of the squad to play Australia and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship.

Then he was named man of the match in the November victory over England at Twickenham, in which he scored the decisive third try.

"The story of Schalk’s recovery is amazing. He not only survived such a serious illness, but in a relatively short time he was back in the Springboks team and winning matches for them. What a great tribute to his fighting spirit.

"All he needs now to complete this remarkable comeback is to have a wonderful World Cup later this year," said Laureus World Sports Academy Member and All Blacks rugby legend Sean Fitzpatrick.

Former Springboks captain Morné du Plessis, who was also manager of the 1995 World Cup winning team, said: "I have known Schalk and his family for many years and I know that there were very real concerns for his wellbeing during his illness.

"It really was a great relief for his family, friends and supporters  to just see him well again, not even to think at that stage that he would make a miraculous comeback and be back to his best on the rugby pitch."

The Laureus World Sports Awards were unveiled at the Shanghai Grand Theatre.

"In other categories, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic won his second Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award after another brilliant 12 months which featured a second Wimbledon victory, while Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year after breaking three world records in different events in two weeks. She was only the third ever person to achieve that feat in different events, along with athletic giants Jesse Owens and Usain Bolt.

The German Football Team was named Laureus World Team of the Year after becoming the first European side to win the FIFA World Cup in South America, while there was a double success for the United States with wheelchair racer Tatyana McFadden winning the Laureus Disability Award and Alan Eustace receiving the Laureus Action Sports Award after his record-breaking freefall from the edge of space.

Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo was named winner of the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award after a brilliant rookie season in which he won three Formula One Grand Prix for Red Bull.

The Awards were announced in seven categories.

The full list of winners is:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Novak Djokovic

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Genzebe Dibaba

Laureus World Team of the Year: Germany Men’s Football Team

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Daniel Ricciardo

Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Schalk Burger

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Tatyana McFadden

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Alan Eustace

There were three additional Awards: the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award was presented to Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming, the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award was given to retired tennis star Li Na and the Laureus Sport for Good Award was presented to the worldwide skateboard programme Skateistan.

During the event, it was also announced that Yao Ming and Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar had been elected the newest members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.


  • Martin Moggee - 2015-04-15 15:59

    What a legend!!!! Baie geluk Schalla, jy verdien dit

  • Gerard van der Straaten - 2015-04-15 16:02

    Congrats ! Wonderful !

  • Ria Cook - 2015-04-15 16:05

    Fantastic news! Congrats!

  • Ansie Pieterse Basson - 2015-04-15 16:08

    Well done Schalla, well will always be a true legend!!!

  • Jake Somersby - 2015-04-15 16:09

    Nice to have one good news story today. Congrats Schalk, I never give you a chance but you proved me wrong. Now please go on and win the RWC!

  • Pierre Neumeyer - 2015-04-15 16:10

    Thoroughly deserved!! Congrats Schalk Burger.

  • Warren Joubert - 2015-04-15 16:25

    Well deserve Congratz to u Shcalk burger!

  • Talitha En Gerhard Wessels - 2015-04-15 16:44

    Uitstekend Schalk, baaaaie trots op jou! Ek is nie eers 'n Stormers ondersteuner maar jy is verseker een vd Beste Spelers wat al ooit die Springbok Trui oor sy kop getrek het, kannie wag om jou weer in Springbok kleure te sien met die RWC 2015,gn haal daai beker vir ons!!!!!

  • merkwaardig - 2015-04-15 16:45

    Malema made a better comeback.

  • Adrian Snyman - 2015-04-15 16:46


  • Dewald Van Wyk - 2015-04-15 16:48

    Well deserved Schalk...!

  • Nicolaas Jonker - 2015-04-15 16:55

    Geluk Schalk legende onder die legendes .dis wat SA so anders maak niks kry ons onder nie pas aan en oorwin .

  • Luke Baker1 - 2015-04-15 16:57

    What an oak! You deserve every accolade you get, well done!!

  • Stephanus Jesaja Heunis - 2015-04-15 16:58


  • Stephanus Jesaja Heunis - 2015-04-15 16:58


  • Dennis Care Senyonjo - 2015-04-15 17:04

    Forgive me for going off topic buh av read sone story on bbc and want to know wheather its true that you guys are killing your fellow africans telling them to go back home.??

  • Neville Van den Aardweg - 2015-04-15 17:19

    Way to go, congratulations!

  • Joey van Heerden - 2015-04-15 18:00

    The incredible schalk!!!

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