‘Red card today, perfectly legal back then’: Burger on epic rivalry with Collins
Schalk Burger and the late Jerry Collins will go down as two of the greatest flankers to ever play the game, and when it comes to the hardest players, very few will be ahead of the former Springbok and All Black.
The great thing was that these two legendary players’ careers coincided, which meant rugby fans were treated to some epic and brutal battles over the years as a rivalry developed between the pair.
Burger recently looked back on some of those battles for Sky Sport NZ and gave an eye-opening insight into the mentality of one of rugby’s most physical players and what happened when they were faced with their counterpart.
Burger said: “Immediately from watching this clip I can see Jerry Collins and Rodney So’oialo so I guess it’s going to be something physical. Me and Jerry, ironically, we had a thing- I don’t even know where it began. I was carrying it back and there was a massive space between me and our fly-half at the time and he ignored the fly-half and the massive space next to me and starting running straight at me. So as soon as I got the ball I was like ‘There’s no way I can run this through the hole if Jerry’s there, I’ve got to run straight at him. Red card today, perfectly legal back then. I mean this was the standard for the games back then. I mean you’re up for it.
“This is 2005, if my memory serves me correct. I remember this game so, so well. That is ’05 and we were dominating in the Tri-Nations and we needed to get a result this game and we’d have closed up the Tri-Nations. I got a shot on the nose early doors and then I actually busted my whole lip open. And this, what you see afterwards between me and Jerry was just the most amazing thing. We would fly into each other. You basically, I think, sometimes set the tone for which way the Test match was going to go. And when Jerry was dominant it would probably go their way, and if I was dominant it would probably go the Boks’ way.
“We ultimately came short in this game, but the ultimate mark of respect for a South African and I guess the same for an All Black is to give your jersey away. Unfortunately Jerry’s not with us anymore, but he lived life large and was a great player.”
Schalk Burger 🤝 Jerry Collins
— Sky Sport NZ (@skysportnz) August 25, 2023