Fund for injured rugby players raises R1m

THE Chris Burger-Petro Jackson Players' Fund achieved its aim of raising R1million for injured players at its 13th annual Bell's Night of the Stars extravaganza and telethon held at the International Convention Centre in Durban on Tuesday night.

THE Chris Burger-Petro Jackson Players' Fund achieved its aim of raising R1million for injured players at its 13th annual Bell's Night of the Stars extravaganza and telethon held at the International Convention Centre in Durban on Tuesday night.

Proceeds from the evening, which included an auction of rugby memorabilia that raised more than R150000, will go towards helping the fund's 98 recipients, all of whom have suffered catastrophic injuries on the rugby fields of South Africa.

Rugby supporters from around the country - and indeed the world - dug deep during a two-hour telethon manned by the entire Springbok squad and televised live by SuperSport.

In one of the highlights of the evening, Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman, who will play Nelson Mandela in an upcoming film about the Springboks' 1995 Rugby World Cup triumph, pledged R100000 to the fund during a live telephone conversation from Los Angeles with Springbok captain John Smit. Smit also announced that he and his squad had donated R50000 to the fund.

"It has been an honour for us to be here, giving of our time for such a worthy cause," said Smit, who will lead South Africa for a world record 60th time against New Zealand in the second Vodacom Tri-Nations Test in Durban on Saturday.

The Fund was also given a massive boost by a donation on the night of R100000 from banquet guest Dr Lance Anderson.

Bell's donated R300000 to the fund as part of their naming rights sponsorship, as well as an additional R127000 raised through their Bell's golf experiences events.

"We are proud to support such a worthy cause," said Bell's marketing manager Dominic Malan. "The fund is close to our hearts and we are committed to continuing our support." - Sapa

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