‘People just jealous of Saracens’ – Burger

By Michael Uugwanga

FORMER Saracens player Jacques Burger has come out to suggest that most British rugby clubs are jealous of the Saracens’ success, following reports in the British media of the team having breached the English Premiership's £7 million(N$134 million) salary cap over several seasons.

The Saracens were subsequently handed a fine of over £5 million, but the sanctions are on hold until a final verdict is delivered, likely in 2020, but the case has cast a shadow over their trophy-laden successes of the past three years. The Saracens are currently appealing their 35-point deduction and the fine.

Burger, who captained Namibia at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, joined Saracens in the 2009/10 season and played until the end of the 2015/16 season, during which he soon earned a reputation as one of the toughest tacklers in the English Premiership, following his arrival midway through the 2009/10 season. He was named Saracens Player of the Year in 2010/11.

During his time at Saracens, the Namibian bruiser helped the team win two Premiership titles in 2011 and 2015 and also played for Namibia 37 times, including at the 2007, 2011 and 2015 world cups.

Although he will not be affected by the sanctions, which is likely to see Saracens stripped of their title wins between 2016 and 2019, Burger believes there are lots of people in the UK that are jealous of his former club’s successes.

“Many people are jealous of the success the club has achieved over the years. During our time nothing like that happened. I enjoyed every moment at the club and I was well looked after. Saracens have invested heavily in owning a school and other programmes to benefit the community and now clubs are jealous of that.

“I’m not saying that the club is innocent but we just have to wait and see the final verdict. Luckily, I’m not affected [by the stripping away of titles]. People never want to see a club succeeding and it is happening now that many people are unhappy about the input done by Saracens in the past few years. The club has dominated titles and European club competitions and as a result people are still not happy with that.”

Burger also previously played club rugby in South Africa for the Blue Bulls before he had his first taste of European rugby in France for Aurillac in the 2007/08 season.

A full-time farmer now since retiring from competitive sport, Burger said he has no intention of returning to rugby in a coaching role, although he was always spotted with former Welwitschias coach Phil Davies at a Welwitschias training session at the Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium before the World Cup.

“I am currently based at my farm at Stampriet down south. Although I wanted to come in as a part-time consultant for the Namibia Rugby Union, I have no intention of leaving my farm and moving to Windhoek to coach.”