In his first radio interview since his hospitalisation earlier this year, South African rugby legend Derick Hougaard has shared the latest updates on his recovery journey.
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.
Derick Hougaard provides latest updates
In an interview on Jacaranda FM’s radio show The Drive with Rob and Roz on Wednesday (16 August), Derick Hougaard didn’t hold back in sharing the latest major updates.
The former Bulls playmaker told hosts Rozanne McKenzie and Rob Forbes that the road to recovery isn’t over, nearly two months since emerging from the coma. “I look a lot better than I feel,” he admitted. “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 given doctors’ estimates that there is only a 50 percent 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,” he explained.
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 shared. “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 recalled his two-month effort to convince Hougaard to sign on for the documentary. Reflecting on Hougaard’s coma, Van Heerden shared 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,” he said. “I had this odd sense of calm, even as the world seemed to crumble around me. Deep down, I knew he remained the Derick Hougaard who secured the Currie Cup and clinched the Blue Bulls‘ first Super Rugby victory in 2007. Of course, he’d come through this.”
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 shared, “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 said.
“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.”
You can listen to the full interview on JacPod.