Tag Archives: Rugby

tribute to jooste

Businessman Gavin Varejes, who heads the SA Rugby Legend Association, delivered a moving eulogy at the memorial service for South African legend Joost van der Westhuizen, who after a long battle, finally succumbed to motor neuron disease.

What does rugby mean to you?

Rugby isn't a sport, it's a brotherhood. It brings together different cultures, races and personalities with one common goal, to get a result after 80 minutes. For this, players sacrifice life and limb and in the process learn more about themselves and their darkest fears, like losing, facing a hostile crowd and disappointment in not only losing a tough game, but also letting your teammates and yourself down.

When and why did you set up the SA Rugby Legends?

The SA Rugby Legends Association was started in 2001 as an "old boys club" for provincial and professional players who still wanted to belong and give back to the game.

What did you hope to achieve with it?

The transition from professional rugby to life after rugby is brutal. If SARLA can make this process easier for ex-players and grow the base of rugby players at grassroots level, it is doing its job. We focus on rugby development and also the wellbeing of the ex-players after rugby.

Describe your relationship with Joost van der Westhuizen

Joost and I had a very open and honest relationship. He was the captain of the SA Rugby Legends and a hero in our country. He was also the tequila king! Off the field and after the party, we were helping transform his sporting skills to a business skill.

Joost was working at one of the companies in our group. In early 2011, I called him in and had concerns that he had been drinking because he was slurring his words and I noticed that his gait was unsteady. He was quite offended and assured me that he hadn't. I thought that he must've been partying too hard and it persisted. I think it really worried him as well.

And then, early in April 2011, he was told that he had 18 to 24 months to live. He was devastated and told me he had motor neuron disease and it was incurable. We cried together, he then got up and walked out. We never cried again together.

What and when was your first interaction with him?

The first time I met Joost, was a few years after the 1995 Rugby World Cup when I got the World Cup captains together, including David Kirk, Nick Farr Jones and Francois Pienaar in 1998. My initial motivation was to unite people and players through sport. Joost was one of the players who put his hand up to make a difference.

Describe Joost as a rugby player.

Joost was one of a kind and well ahead of his time. If you wanted to play against him, you had to play like him or you were lost. Eighty-nine test matches speaks for themselves and 38 tries, twice as many as the scrumhalf who scored the next highest number of tries, is an incredible feat.

Describe him as a rugby legend.

His never-say-die attitude could inspire not only a rugby team but a whole nation and gave many something to believe in the toughest of times, on and off the field.

Describe him as a friend.

Loyal, but also brutally honest at times and often turned this brutality on himself, facing and never cheating “the man in the mirror”. He lived and loved life to the max and had an infectious laugh. His glass was always full, half water, half air. You need both.

What did you learn from knowing Joost?

Never give up. In the darkest days and hours, Joost only wanted two things, to see his two incredible children and to make sure that J9 (his foundation) was doing what it could to help people with MND. He wanted to alert the world to the plight of these sufferers.

I learnt that even I don't know what a bad day is. Joost did. His body became his tomb. MND is in my opinion the worst disease in the world. The day you die, your brain is as alert as the day you get the disease.

I learned what real friendships, integrity, family and brotherhood meant. His family were absolutely epic. His brother Pieter put his life on hold and made the most selfless sacrifices for Joost. He became Joost's alter ego.

What can the Jewish world take from Joost?

Live every day as if it's your last, because one day you're going to be right. Don't sweat the small stuff and it's all small stuff. Surround yourself with positive, wonderful people. I know that Joost did.

Original Article:

Underprivileged young athletes get their chance to shine in Monaco rugby tournament.

South Africa has no shortage of talented young rugby players – and a partnership between the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA), The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation and Cell C is making it possible for a group of young budding rugby stars to experience the thrill of an international tournament. A group of youngsters from underprivileged areas of the Western Cape are being given the opportunity to participate in the Sainte Dévote Tournament, a rugby 7's tournament, held in Monaco in March 2017.

The tour is part of an arrangement between SARLA, The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, as well as the Monaco Rugby Federation. The tournament includes teams from around the world and this is the third year that South African youth will take part. The arrangement is an example of how sport can play a vital role in social upliftment, giving young children from underprivileged areas the chance of a lifetime to travel to an exciting new destination, with cultural exchanges and fun activities being arranged throughout their stay in Monaco to help them to develop as athletes and to grow in a personal capacity. The children also learn to work together as a team towards the goal of performing well in this prestigious international tournament.

Preparing for saint devote
According to Gavin Varejes, President of SARLA, “My involvement with the sport of rugby has shown me how it encourages players to develop values such as team spirit, fun, fellowship, solidarity, and good sportsmanship. The South African youngsters selected for the Sainte Dévote Tournament will benefit immensely from the experience and we hope that it will inspire them to work hard and achieve other successes both on and off the field.” This is part of the mandate of the South African Rugby Legends Association, which works to develop rugby at grassroots level and does extensive work with disadvantaged communities. Varejes adds, “We are extremely grateful to Cell C, as the headline sponsor, for making this fantastic opportunity possible through their generous ongoing contribution.”

SARLA’s CEO, Stefan Terblanche, states that SARLA is honored to be invited to send a team to the tournament once more. He points out that, “Making dreams a reality for rugby-loving kids is a huge part of what SARLA wants to achieve, and this is an opportunity to do just that.” He thanks Cell C for their support in making the dreams of 12 young South African athletes come true. Terblanche also thankfully acknowledges the support and assistance of Blitz Bok coach Neil Powell and 7’s Academy and Elite squad manager Marius Schoeman.

Dr Doug Mattheus, Executive Head of Marketing, explains why Cell C became involved: “We’re a proud sponsor of the South African Rugby Legends Association, and are delighted to be associated with this tournament that brings joy, and the chance to acquire top level skills from rugby’s finest to a group of young underprivileged South African boys, not to mention the huge overall developmental impact this experience will have on them in broader terms, of experiencing a new country and new culture. It’s a great privilege for Cell C to be involved in this extremely worthwhile social upliftment campaign.”

For more information on SARLA or the Sainte Dévote Tournament please visit:


Gavin Varejes has once again been invited with the prestigious task of handing out the Springbok Jerseys to the team before their test match on Saturday 5th November at Wembley Stadium in London.

This is the second time that Gavin has handed out the jerseys to the National Team. He did this back in 2013 when Heyneke Meyer was coach as well as with the Springbok Blitzbokke in 2016, where he handed the jerseys out to the Sevens Team in Cape Town.

“Gavin is a very passionate Springbok supporter and we value his tremendous contribution to the team. He is not only a sports enthusiast and accomplished businessman, but also a great humanitarian. It was fitting that someone of his stature presented the Springboks with their match jerseys for the international against the Barbarians at Wembley.” said Rayaan Adriaanse, spokesperson for the Springboks

Bok Jersey Handover

Gavin Varejes, Executive Chairman of Richmark Holdings and President of South African Rugby Legends presents gifts to Eben Etzebeth and Francois Louw on reaching their 50th Test caps.

"We are so proud of these young players achieving this wonderful milestone in their careers. It shows how much passion and love they have for the game and making us South Africans a truly great rugby nation"
said Gavin Varejes.

The gents visited the offices of Richmark Holdings where Gavin hosted them to a lunch and an opportunity to see some of the amazing rugby memorabilia that he has been collecting for the past 20 years.

Gavin Varejes celebrates Boks 50th Test

It’s going to be a busy weekend in the mother city for the SA RUGBY LEGENDS ASSOCIATION as they present a full weekend of rugby in the region.

On Thursday, they welcome a representative U16 team from Monaco, as part of the SA-MONACO Rugby Exchange programme presented in association with the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation and the Monaco Rugby Federation.

The programme, now in it’s second year, serves to promote the game of rugby at this age group in both countries, in South Africa focussing on those youngsters from disadvantaged areas.

Earlier this year, a group from Mannenberg on the Cape Flats travelled to participate in the St Devote U12 Rugby Tournament hosted by Princess Charlene of Monaco and her Foundation.

The group will participate in the SA-Monaco U16 rugby tournament to be held at City Park Stadium in Athlone on Sunday 10th July, featuring teams from SARLA’s Vuka Rugby programme. They will play a round robin format in the morning to determine placings in the knockout stages.

“It is a privilege to welcome the Monegasque Rugby Federation to South Africa. The association between Monaco & South Africa has been quite unique. Prince Albert and Princess Charlene have spent significant time, effort and money in bringing our two countries together and forging stronger sporting relationships”, said SARLA’s President Gavin Varejes.

“We are always welcomed with open arms and receive such incredible hospitality from Princess Charlene and the people of Monaco, when we travel there”, he said, “so it’s wonderful that we can return the hospitality by welcoming the young team to our shores”.

Besides participating in the tournament on Sunday, the team will enjoy a private tour of the Springbok Experience accompanied by a Springbok rugby legend, receive a rugby master class at the Stellenbosch based SA 7’s rugby academy and watch the Vuka programme’s Legends Cup finals at UCT on Saturday.

“The exchange is also in place to foster an understanding of our different cultures and to give the children from both countries and opportunity, through rugby, to learn more about each other”, said SARLA’s CEO Stefan Terblanche.

“Princess Charlene has been a wonderful supporter of SARLA and we are working closely together to help develop the game she loves dearly in Monaco, as well as working together to help develop the youth through sport, something she is very passionate about.”

On Saturday morning, SARLA will host the 2016 final of the U15 Legends Cup at UCT.

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The Legends Cup is an extension of their Vuka Rugby league programme that is played in 96 schools in the Cape Town region. During the weekly games, stand out players are identified and placed in zonal teams to represent their region in the Legends Cup that takes place during the July holidays.

After a week long round of matches and the semi-finals, the two teams to contest the legends Cup for 2016 are The Highlanders from Atlantis and Crusaders from Cape Town Central Zone.

This year, for the first time, the girls get a chance to contest for their own Legends Cup in the U16 age group. The finalists who will be vying for it are The Chiefs from Khayelitsha and Gladiators from Mitchells Plain North.

The Vuka programme has been running for 9 years in the Western Cape and has now started to roll out around the country with the support and backing of SARU and the relevant unions, as well as a national tournament for U15 development rugby teams - the Legends Iqhawe Week.

“What we are especially proud of is that in the current U16 Grant Khomo Week, we have 26 young players representing their respective unions, who all played in the Legends Iqhawe Week last year”, said Terblanche.

“Our rugby programmes are in place to help nurture and develop rugby talent in areas where rugby is not usually offered as a sport at school but where lots of potential talent lies. Through Vuka, the Legends Cup and the Legends Iqhawe Week, we are able to help SARU achieve its objectives of taking rugby throughout the country .”

We would like to once again extend our thanks to Mr Thelo Wakefield, President of WP Rugby Union and to Mr Mervin Green Head of Development at SARU for sharing SARLA`s vision on rugby development and affording us the opportunity to develop the game with their backing.

Blue Label Telecoms on Monday announced it was partnering with SA Rugby for the Castle Lager Incoming series between the Boks and Ireland.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed telecommunications and technology company will partner the Boks for the three-Test series of matches in Cape Town (11 June), Johannesburg (18 June) and Port Elizabeth (25 June 2016).

Blue Label Telecoms’ name and branding will appear on the Springboks’ jersey for the series as well as in a number of on-and off-field areas.

“We are delighted to welcome Blue Label Telecoms to the rugby family,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby. “They are one of South Africa’s most innovative and visionary companies and the way they have embraced this opportunity is testimony to that.”

“These are tough financial times for South Africa and we at SA Rugby are having to be creative in how we approach our commercial partnerships,” said Roux. “Blue Label Telecoms’ partnership for a test series – rather than for a number of years – is a model that we are increasingly considering. It offers our partners good value while also allowing us to introduce new names into our family with a view to longer term relationships.

“This is an exciting period for Springbok rugby; Blue Label Telecoms identified that and we were able to quickly see eye-to-eye on a partnership for the Castle Lager Incoming Series. SA Rugby has a good story to tell and we’re delighted that Blue Label Telecoms is now a part of it.”

Brett Levy, Blue Label Telecoms’ Joint CEO, said: “We're a proudly South African company with a strong heritage of sponsoring cricket and soccer, so the opportunity to back the Bokke is very close to our hearts.

“Our rugby team is a national treasure, and we're delighted to be associated with the Bokke ‘gees’ during the team’s debut. It's fantastic to experience this period of reinvention and renewal.”

Mark Levy, Joint CEO at Blue Label Telecoms, added: “SA Rugby has a vision for the team, from coach through to captain and management - the stage is set to show the world the Bokke’s determination and prowess.

“We share their confidence in South Africa and their commitment to excellence – the Bokke are a perfect fit with the Blue Label Telecoms brand.”

Blue Label Telecoms partners with SA Rugby