Apr 28, 2016
'A Truly Great Saracen' - Press pay tribute to departing Burger
When you are looking for ways to describe a player, the best way is to speak to those around him, those who have coached him and those who have watched him in action.
It just goes to show that Jacques Burger’s six-year stint with Saracens have left quite the mark on those who have written about him throughout his spell with the Men in Black.
Below are some of the extracts we have received in the past few weeks ahead of Jacques final game:
It is very rare in rugby that you actually see a one man team in action but whenever Jacques pulled on his beloved Namibian Jersey that is what he became. The rest of the team were inspired to play above themselves by the selfless, or rather reckless, commitment of their leader. Sarries have also benefited hugely from a man who embodies real toughness of spirit, mind and body. There is only one Jacques Burger - one mighty Lion of Africa. - Chris Jones, Evening Standard
Lynagh, Sella, Pienaar…when Saracens opened the door to overseas talent in the early days of professionalism, they rolled out the red carpet too. Jacques Burger could not consider himself a fully paid-up member of the game’s glitterati when he arrived in town, yet he quickly played his way into the front rank of the club’s star performers through the sweat of his brow and the strength of his character – not to mention a level of physical commitment for which the phrase “off the scale” might have been coined. One of the great men of rugby, he leaves with his talent gloriously fulfilled. Maximum respect. - Chris Hewett, former rugby correspondent for the Independent
Jacques Burger has been a phenomenon, nothing less. When we speak of indestructability we are usually referring to inanimate objects, not breakable human beings. But Burger has been truly indestructible and amongst all the wonderful hard men I have seen playing rugby, he is the hardest. Certainly, no-one, not even the galacticos of the game, ever served his country like Jacques served Namibia. He was leading when they were on a hiding to nothing and never took a backward step. He was still there in the recent World Cup when Namibia were increasingly competitive. With Saracens, he maintained his levels in astonishing fashion, he has epitomised what the club is about. This is the most honourable retirement in the history of sport. - Stephen Jones, The Sunday Times
Players don't generally like reading ratings after a match. I know because plenty have complained to me about them. And, yes, we journalists do sometimes get them wrong (it can be hard watching all 30 players and filing on the whistle) but one rating I know I did not get wrong was giving Jacques Burger 10/10 for his performance against Clermont Auvergne in the 2014 Heineken Cup semi-final. It is the only time I have given the full whack but it was such an astonishing display of physicality and commitment that it was fully deserved. It was surely Burger's greatest day but the truth is that his standards were only a notch down from that in all his time at the club. He has been an outstanding servant, and most of the time has been so on one leg. Just imagine if that one knee had not been so knackered. - Steve James, The Sunday Telegraph
I once invited Alex Goode to describe playing alongside Jacques Burger. His reply has always stuck with me. "If you ask any opposing player who they fear most you'll get the same answer. After one game against Harlequins their centre Jordan Turner-Hall told me: 'Every time I play you guys I spend my life looking around for that bloke with the curly hair, because I know he'll destroy us.' In over 30 years reporting on English rugby I cannot recall a player with a more ravenous appetite for tackling or less regard for his own comfort; off the field he was a pleasure to interview and a wonderful ambassador for Namibia. When he heads back to the wide open spaces of Africa he will be fondly remembered and much missed. To borrow another perfect line from Goode: “He smashes people week in week out but off the field he's the nicest guy in the world." - Rob Kitson, Guardian
When clubs bring in overseas talent, they hope that the individual will not only fit into the existing culture of the team, but bring something extra on that front. Even from the outside, you can tell that Jacques Burger has done exactly that and to do it at a club like Saracens, where the family is so powerfully established, is great testament to the player and those who signed him. Those that did make the signing would have already known that Burger, the player, would bring total commitment and bravery on the field. His performances have been at times remarkable – he is a born standard setter. One final line though. Jacques Burger is a fearless rugby player yes, we all can see that, but he should be remembered as a clever one too. His reading of the game consistently puts him in the positions to cause damage and, boy, he has caused damage! He has been a truly great Saracen. - Miles Harrison, Sky Sports
Gary Lineker talked recently about footballer N'Golo Kante intercepting asteroids if earth ever came under attack. If Jacques Burger was playing they'd never get that close because he'd have tackled them all by then...and won the ball back. Selfless, immune to pain, the embodiment of the very best our sport has to offer. Saracens & Namibia were lucky to have him on their side for so long. Commentaries won't be as fun without Jacques and the bubble perm." – Nick Mullins, BT Sport
Be there for Jacques' final game this Sunday. Tickets available here.