It’s a great pleasure to be sharing my fourth report as chairperson of the Players’ Fund – Rugby’s Caring Hands. Since my last report, much has changed in the world and in South Africa, with serious concerns about our economy, our countries leadership, rising levels of crime poverty and unemployment.  Despite this, one significant up-side was our emergence from the pandemic, the world slowly opening up again, families reunited after two long years, policy was reviewed as far as work from the office or from home and then of course, the cherry on the top – the return of rugby as we know it. Our cups were filled to overflowing watching the players play with heart and gusto in packed stadia filled with adoring noisy fans. Our only major concern was the money in the bank, or should I say, lack thereof.  

With rugby back on the fields, sadly the injuries also returned including a number of fatalities, which one can’t help wondering if are perhaps the long-term effects of COVID playing a role. These injuries and fatalities however serve as a reminder to us as to why after 42 years we continue to serve those whose lives have been negatively affected by a rugby injury.  It certainly puts things into perspective when one sees first-hand the support that is offered by the fund to an injured player and his family in their time of need.   

Since our last AGM, a management staff restructuring proposal was accepted by the board and plans put in place to appoint a CEO, a first such leadership role and one aimed at taking the Fund into the next decade. Change management, strategic leadership, strong business networks and income generation were just a few of the key performance areas focused on when recruiting the right person for this new and exciting position. The second new role is that of Injured Player Welfare Manager, with the General Manager position held by Gail Baerecke falling away. This role will be filled by Gail until her retirement at the end of July 2023 and a new recruit found to take over this position. The General & Financial Administrator currently held by Aashia Hendricks remains unchanged. As a result of this restructuring, the renewed and invested focus of the Fund will be attaining financial sustainability, so that attending to the improved quality of life for our recipients can be our priority and core business. 

In ending, many thanks are due and I will begin with expressing my grateful thanks to each of the members of my board of trustees, for your hard work, dedication and sacrifices made. Our collective and sincere gratitude must go to our management team for their efforts under difficult circumstances. Lastly, I thank our many loyal and caring donors for their continuous support of the Players’ Fund.  

With Christmas just around the corner, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a blessed time with your family and friends and to those who don’t celebrate Christmas, a safe and wonderful holiday and festive season.   

Jean de Villiers