The Welwitschias’ inspirational skipper Jacques Burger has been ruled out of Namibia’s final IRB World Cup Pool C match against Argentina on Sunday.
The uncompromising hippy look-alike flanker suffered a confirmed concussion nine minutes into the match against Georgia on Wednesday evening at Sandy Park in Exeter and will not be able to play against the Pumas in Leicester.
Coincidently, his absence signals a premature end to his illustrious international rugby career, whose tests résumé for his native land spanned over nine years, with 36 caps to his credit, which included three Rugby World Cup appearances in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
On Wednesday, Burger equalled Hugo Horn’s 11 Rugby World Cup appearances for his country. Before the team’s departure for Leicester yesterday, Burger reflected on his career.
“It was a huge disappointment that I could not complete last night’s (Wednesday) match and an even bigger disappointment that I will not be able to play on Sunday. I am very proud of my team and it is not the way that you would want to end an international career. But that’s the game of rugby for you.”
Sunday’s match against Argentina would have been his last for Namibia. “I was really hoping to finish my international career in style; the emotions were building up to the match on Sunday and to have it ended abruptly like this, after just ten minutes, is a bit of a setback. But I have no regrets, I have had a wonderful time playing for Namibia with my friends,” said Burger.
“A lot of people have asked me why I chose to play for Namibia. I am a proud Namibian. I grew up with a lot of the guys I am playing with now, and played with and against them at school. It was an honour for me to represent Namibia and I have never regretted it.”
The president of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) Bradley Basson paid tribute to Burger.
“Jacques’ contribution to Namibian rugby has been immense. He is an inspirational leader and a true ambassador for all Namibians. He is a role model to all Namibian sportsmen and women and many rugby players in our country aspire to be like him one day. We wish him well in his last season at Saracens, and hope that one day when he returns home we could involve him in Namibia rugby.”
The CEO of the Namibian Rugby Union, Sybrand de Beer, also joined the chorus in singing praises for captain fantastic. “Through the way Jacques played, he portrayed what being Namibian is all about, he is hardworking, honest, courageous and proud. I want to thank Jacques for his loyal service to the union and his teammates and wish him well for the next phase in his life.”
Namibia head coach Phil Davies said Burger epitomised professionalism and loyalty to his team. “In my career as coach I have worked with exceptional captains. Jacques is one of them, an inspirational captain who led from the front and a true leader on and off the field. Jacques has played a huge role in Namibia’s performances at this Rugby World Cup and has left a wonderful legacy on which future Namibian rugby players can build.”