One of the Aviva Premiership’s most popular characters, Schalk Brits left South Africa in 2009 to ply his trade at double European champions, Saracens. Over a decade later Schalk is still regarded as one of the most exciting and dynamic hookers in the Premiership.
A longstanding Mammoth customer, we caught up with Schalk to find out more about how he will look back on his career and why quality rest and recovery time becomes increasingly important as a sportsperson gets into their 30s.
Having started his rugby education on the Western Cape, SchalkBrits graduated to the Paul Roos Gymnasium – a school in Stellenbosch famous for producing a raft of high-profile South African internationals over the years.
With 10 Springbok caps to his name, Schalkwas snapped up by Premiership side Saracens in 2009 as they looked to bring experience and power to the squad. Now with 200 appearances in the Black and Red of Saracens to his name, Schalk’s CV includes 3 Premiership titles, 2 European Champions Cup titles.
Away from the pitch Schalk has a wife and three children and boasts a degree in management accountancy – a qualification that may come in useful in a short time as he promises that the 2017/18 season will be his last.
At 36 he is still feared by opposition teams as an explosive player and talented hooker. Yet he says,
“Really, it is lucky I married young. Thanks to rugby I’m not getting any prettier so this season will definitely be my last. I’m already planning for life after rugby and my plan is to go back to University to complete an MBA.
“Rugby has given me so much: the opportunity to represent my country and also live around the world doing what I love as a job. It’s been a fantastic experience but I believe you need to know when to call it a day and look forward to the next challenge.”
Asked what he will miss about playing for Saracens, Schalk says,
“Like all rugby players I am a competitive animal and I love playing to win. More than anything, though, it is probably the camaraderie of being part of a rugby club that I’ll miss. You are part of a family when you play for a team and I know I’ll miss seeing people who have become good mates over the years.”
Playing top-flight rugby for more than a decade understandably takes its toll on the body. Schalk says that, as he has matured as a player, paying attention to stretching, rehabilitation and recovery after matches and training sessions has become increasingly important. And sleep is a crucial factor in this.
“When you are in your early twenties it is relatively easy to recover and bounce back day after day throughout the season. Over time, however, you find that you need to dedicate the same time and attention to recovery and rest as you do to the work you put in on the pitch.
“Things have come a long way since I started playing in terms of paying attention to workload, stretching, sports physiotherapy, nutrition and recovery. I’ve found that one of the most important things I can do away from the club is focus on getting quality sleep. Getting a solid 8-9 hours a night on a sleep surface that eases muscle and joint pain can make all the difference.
“That’s why I first invested in a Mammoth mattress in 2014 and why I’ve recently upgraded to a new Performance 240. After a good night’s sleep I feel refreshed, energised and ready to take on the day ahead; a poor night’s sleep could mean that I’m fatigued, struggling to perform on the pitch and more likely to pick up an injury.”
Schalk Brits bought a Superking Mammoth Performance 240 from Beds Are Uzzz in Hemel Hempstead.