New 'Team Schalk' player in safe hands
SCHALK Burger has not played for the Springboks for a while because of injury - but he is pulling his weight as a full-time father and shows no fear in tackling dirty nappies.
Fans were devastated when Burger tore ligaments in his knee in February but might be consoled knowing that their hero has traded on-field glory for a bundle of joy.
Michele Burger gave birth to their son - also named Schalk - at a hospital in Cape Town last Monday.
This week the Sunday Times can reveal intimate details disclosed by the happy new parents, who got married on a family wine estate in Wellington last year.
"Yes, Schalk was in his scrubs," said Michele. "He held my hand throughout the Caesarean operation and stood right next to the doctor who delivered our son. He was very inquisitive in theatre and interested in the operation and he got to cut the umbilical cord."
The couple took their baby to their house, a stone's throw from the Newlands rugby stadium, three days later.
Baby Schalk, who has already inherited his dad's nickname of Schalla, has been inundated with attention and gifts.
His arrival sparked excitement on social media networks as the country's top sport stars, including Bok wing Bryan Habana and cricket captain Graeme Smith, congratulated the new parents.
WP Rugby wrote on Twitter: "We'd like to join the rest of the rugby community in congratulating Schalk and Michele Burger on the birth of their son. What a blessing!"
Sports fashion brand Puma presented the new parents with five pairs of tiny baby trainers while SA Rugby delivered a denim-clad teddy bear and flowers.
Back at home, Schalk is proving himself a hands-on dad, unafraid of dirty nappies.
"Schalk actually is such a natural. He does most of the nappies, believe it or not," said Michele. "Becoming a parent must be the best feeling in the world. This week has been very overwhelming, we feel so blessed."
The petite blonde is an interior designer who grew up in Stellenbosch. Burger asked her to marry him in October 2010 after a six-year romance.
The pair exchanged vows at the Welbedacht wine estate, owned by the Burger family, in December 2011. Burger's father, Schalk Burger snr, also played Bok rugby.
The latest addition to the Burger clan may well be destined for national green and gold, but he does not have his own Springbok jersey just yet.
Michele said her husband's injury had been a severe blow, but that she appreciated his help at home.
"Schalk had to have another operation on his knee two weeks ago. He has been ruled out for the year, unfortunately, and will only be ready to play again at the beginning of next year. It has been a very frustrating year for him regarding rugby and his career. He cannot wait to get back on to the field.
"On the positive side of things, I have been very lucky to have him home through the pregnancy and of course for the birth and the first few months to experience this little miracle together," she said.
Michele said she had an easy pregnancy with some sweet cravings.
"I really enjoyed the pregnancy, it went so quickly for us. I had no morning sickness or negative side-effects.
"I had no specific cravings other than a general sweet tooth. Not a day went by without a chocolate or something sweet."