The Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund commemorates 40 years of service to rugby this year. Since this organisation was founded by Morné du Plessis and his Western Province Team mates in 1980, it has often been referred to as the Samaritan of South African Rugby, with over 500 former rugby players and their families able to give testament to the care and support provided by the Fund when it was needed most. This has been made possible thanks to the support from the rugby community at large, and the individuals and corporates who value the role played by the Fund in assisting those whose lives were changed in an instant while doing something that they loved.

Pick n Pay partnered with the Springbok class of 1995 and the Players’ Fund in a commemorative campaign. The campaign invited South Africans to buy a limited edition Springbok Supporters face-mask in celebration of the 25th anniversary since the 1995 Springboks lifted the William Webb Ellis Trophy at Ellis Park for the very first time.

The goal was to sell 140,000 masks, with all profits being donated to the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund – the official charity of the Springboks.

On Wednesday 2 December, Pick n Pay handed over a cheque of R1-million to the Players’ Fund at the 40th Anniversary Luncheon, which recognised guests for their contributions of time and energy into the establishment and stability of the Fund over 40 years.

To hand over the cheque, Jonathan Ackerman, Pick n Pay’s Customer Service Director, was joined by Former Springbok Captain Francois Pienaar on behalf of the Springbok class of 95. Jean de Villier, current Chairman of the Fund joined Gerhard Swarts in accepting the cheque on behalf of the (current) 106 recipients of the Players’ Fund. Gerhard was injured on 15 March 2003, while playing for Kanonkop High School; he was only 15 at the time. At the event, a moving video was shown telling his story, which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2W1e3muXNU&t=28s

Chairman of the Players’ Fund, Jean de Villiers, says “What a milestone to be celebrating our 40th birthday, and we wouldn’t have got to where we are today without the generous support of the South African public, the rugby loving community and in particular the Springboks who are our biggest supporters. Our recipients all over the country need us now more than ever with the crippling financial effects of lock-down, and the added stress of them falling into a COVID high-risk category.  We are incredibly grateful for this show of support and generosity from the Springboks and .

Ackerman says, “Doing good is an important part of our company values. Pick n Pay’s teams and our customers have really come on board to make this kind of contribution to the Fund possible. Bigger things are always possible when we stand together, and we are honoured to have been part of such a meaningful initiative doing such incredible work,” he says.