South African rugby legend Derick Hougaard has had an incredibly difficult year. The 40-year-old battled respiratory pneumonia at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria where he found himself in a coma for 13 days after he was found unconscious at his home. As he continues on his road to recovery, the former Bulls playmaker made his very first radio interview since his ordeal on Jacaranda FM’s popular radio show ‘The Drive with Rob and Roz’.
Spearheaded by presenters Rozanne McKenzie and Rob Forbes, Hougaard didn’t hold back in sharing major updates – and revealed why he was joined in studio by the station’s former drive presenter Rian Van Heerden during the interview.
The road to recovery isn’t over.
Despite almost two months having passed since his emergence from the coma, Hougaard candidly reveals that appearances can be deceiving. “I look a lot better than I feel,” he admits. “I still feel a little weak and I am always out of breath. The tube from the ventilator left a bit of damage, but all in all, I am feeling good.” Those first nine days of his coma remain a blur to Hougaard, an unsettling fact heightened by the realisation that doctors estimate only a 50% survival rate for such cases. “Over the past two weeks it has really hit me that I could have died so I am processing that. I think it was definitely a lot worse for other people than what it was for me. It’s terrifying thinking how this affected my family, my parents, my kids and Nádine.”
His new documentary series is set to launch this year
Amidst his ongoing recovery, Hougaard announced a forthcoming documentary series. He collaborated with producer Rian Van Heerden on this tell-all project, which captures his life’s journey. Filming took place for over six months before Hougaard’s coma, and the documentary is set to premiere on KykNet in October. “I was very excited to do this documentary,” Hougaard shares. “It’s the longest and the most expensive production that I have ever done. In the first episode, I said I want to make a change in people’s lives. There was a lot I wanted to remove from the documentary, but I wanted to be brutally truthful and vulnerable when I tell my story. This was a journey for the books.”
Producer Rian Van Heerden humorously recalls his two-month effort to convince Hougaard to sign on for the documentary. Reflecting on Hougaard’s coma, Van Heerden shares his unwavering belief in his friend’s resilience: “I wasn’t concerned – I know him. There’s something about this guy. He keeps getting back up again. He gets knocked down and he gets up again.” Van Heerden adds, “I had this odd sense of calm, even as the world seemed to crumble around me. Deep down, I knew he remained the Derrick Hougaard who secured the Currie Cup and clinched the Blue Bulls’ first Super Rugby victory in 2007. Of course, he’d come through this.”
The love he’s received has been overwhelming
As Hougaard continues his recovery journey at home, he’s deeply moved by the outpouring of love from fans. Affectionately known as the ‘Liefling of Loftus’, he shares, “Friends flew in from overseas and Cape Town to pray outside the hospital. Witnessing this level of care makes you feel cherished and reminds you that people still want you in their lives.” Hougaard expressed his gratitude to the unwavering fans who stood by him through this trying time. “To everyone, wherever you are, thank you for your prayers. The doctors call my recovery a miracle, but I believe it’s the power of those prayers,” he says. “Thank you for standing by me from my first day at Loftus to now. Thank you for showing your care and support. I truly appreciate it.”
Listen to the full interview on JacPod below and tune into ‘The Drive with Rob and Roz’ every weekday between 16h00 and 19h00 on Jacaranda FM.
Source: The Platinum Club