FNB Varsity Cup
FNB UP-Tuks prop Ethan Burger on moving from Durban to Pretoria, being part of the FNB UP-Tuks set-up and his rugby aspirations.
When did your love for rugby begin? I was born in Durban and we moved to Cape Town when I was very young. I went to SACS, a very English school. I wasn’t the smartest guy, so the only thing I did well in was sport. I played rugby and cricket throughout high school.
How did you end up in Pretoria? The Bulls made me an offer after the St Stithians Rugby Festival in 2018. I accepted it two months later after giving it some thought and moved to Pretoria to play for the Bulls and Tuks. I’ve represented the Bulls at U19 and U21 levels. I really enjoy the professional setup and getting paid to be a professional athlete.
This is your first season with FNB UP-Tuks. What’s it like to be part of their rugby set-up? I’m grateful to be part of the Tuks rugby family, when you look at the team and the depth we have. There are so many good players. I’m just grateful that the coaches gave me the opportunity to play and prove myself and show what I can do. When you get that chance, you have to take it. The lockers in the Tuks change room have the names of Tuks players who became Springboks. If you look at the history and all the big names, you realise how lucky you are to play for the Stripe Generation.
What are your most memorable rugby moments? To be honest, whenever I score a try I’m exhausted! My favourite try was against Paarl Gimnasium when I got an interception on their 10m line, stepped inside and ran straight through the defence. My best rugby moment by far was against Paarl Gimnasium when we fought back from 19-0 down at half-time to win 21-19.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Both my parents, particularly my dad. I’m grateful for everything he has done for me and my family and all the sacrifices he has made. He played fullback for Natal U21 before getting injured. That injury forced him to stop playing rugby. I took my rugby superstition from my dad. Before every game, I put on my right sock and right boot first and then my left sock and left boot. I also looked up to Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira. I loved watching him play in the scrums and with ball in hand. His ball-carrying and physicality was impressive. I was sad when he retired.
What are your rugby aspirations? I want to play overseas, particularly in England or France. Those are good places to play rugby as a forward because of the emphasis on set pieces, especially scrums.
What have you learned from playing rugby? Rugby teaches you a lot of lessons. For me, it’s discipline, hard work and you have to take every opportunity that comes your way and treat each opportunity like it could be the last.
What are you studying? A B-Ed [Bachelor of Education]. Rugby doesn’t last forever, so you need a backup. As soon as my rugby career is over, I’m going into teaching and coaching. I want to stay involved in rugby.
Interview by Lehlogonolo Ditshego