Former Springboks Jean de Villiers and Hanyani Shimange were elected chairman and deputy chairman, respectively, at a special general meeting of the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund.
After 38 years of leadership on the board of trustees, Morné du Plessis, former Bok captain, and Frikkie Naudé both announced they are stepping down from these positions.
“Our Board of Trustees helps set us apart from other organisations. The calibre of trustees and their combined passion and commitment have ensured a solid foundation for the Fund to do its work,” said Du Plessis.
“We are delighted that young men such as Jean and Shimmy, who have new ideas and passion for the cause, will be taking over the reins of rugby’s caring hands.”
De Villiers has been a member of the board of trustees since February 2018 and, as a former Springbok captain too, is well placed to take the leadership reins and grow the Fund further.
He is likely to do this with the same commitment and passion he showed on the field during his provincial and national rugby tenure.
“It is my belief that if we are supporting rugby we need to support those whose lives are changed through the game too,” Du Plessis said.
In 1987, Petro Jackson, a young player from Kylemore near Stellenbosch, was fatally injured during a match, as player Chris Burger was. As with Burger, a fund was also established in his memory.
In 1992 these two funds were amalgamated. Since then, the Players’ Fund has acted as “rugby’s caring hands” for more than 500 seriously injured rugby players, and currently actively supports 108 beneficiaries.
“It has been a privilege to be chairman of this organisation for the past 38 years,” Du Plessis said. “Thank you to each person who has supported our work taking care of seriously injured rugby players in South Africa,” said Du Plessis.
Naudé said: “I am looking forward to further supporting the great work that the Fund does as a trustee member. The impact the Fund has on the quality of life of our recipients is remarkable. It is an organisation that lives its values every day.”
De Villiers, on accepting the chair, said: “What a privilege and an honour it is for me to accept this role.
“I have very big shoes to fill, and will do my best with the support of the board of trustees and management staff to maintain the great reputation and positive impact the Players’ Fund has.
“There is a reason the Players’ Fund is known as ‘rugby’s caring hands’ – everyone involved truly does care.
“We all love the game of rugby. However, we all understand that sometimes bad things happen, which is where our responsibility lies, ensuring [affected] players are cared for and never forgotten.”
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