SaberCats’ Gerrie Labuschagne: Rugby Standout, Social Media Influencer, One-Time Reality TV Star
“At the end of the day, it’s a team sport. It’s not about me individually.’
By Aaron Wilson
Gerrie Labuschagne’ is accustomed to being featured in photo shoots as a burgeoning social media influencer, embracing the spotlight that beckons him from modeling and being a brand ambassador for clothing lines and fitness shoots.
Yes, the athletic 6-foot-4, 228-pound South Africa native was once a reality television star whose profile, Q rating and Instagram follower count, currently at 107,000, skyrocketed after appearing on one season of the Netflix dating program, “Too Hot to Handle.”
Labuschagne’ has cultivated a strong personal brand.
Although the fitness coach with the chiseled physique is extremely grateful for the star power and opportunities that he’s worked hard to achieve, the relative importance of those pursuits are well-ordered within his list of life priorities.
Mainly, rugby, family and a serious girlfriend who calls herself his biggest fan and is featured heavily on his social media accounts. They met after his brief Netflix star turn.
Life is good for the SaberCats’ versatile utility back, who has built a reputation on the field for his rare athleticism, kicking skills and speed.
“Everything I’ve done in my life has molded me into the person and player I am today,” said Labuschagne’, who grew up playing cricket, competing in track and field as a hurdler, long jumper and threw the shot put along with playing golf and tennis. “I just love sports. It has helped me with everything I’ve done in my life. I love any sport with a ball. I will even try football. I love it.”
Labuschagne’ was named Live Oak Man of the Match following a comeback win over the previously undefeated San Diego Legion, scoring a dynamic try and delivering a clutch kick in a 31-26 victory at SaberCats Stadium.
The SaberCats are off to a 3-1 start heading into this bye week, and Labuschagne’ has been a key player for the Major League Rugby franchise.
Since moving to the United States to join the SaberCats in Major League Rugby after previously playing for Yamaha Jubilo in the Japanese Top League, Labuschagne’ has embraced everything about his new home.
“I love the United States,” he said. “I met my beautiful girlfriend. She was born in Boston and lives in Houston. I’m very happy.”
So, a bit more about that reality show experience. As potentially awkward as having his personal life captured on social media could be, Labuschagne’ leaned into the opportunity and what it could do for him.
“I did the show two years ago, it aired last year in January and it was a cool experience,” Labuschagne’ said. “It opened up a lot of business opportunities for me in America. I feel like it was a good experience for me to go do it. One-hundred percent, it brought me into the spotlight. Now, it’s my responsibility what I want to do with it. I have to build on the brand.”
Labuschagne’ cleared up a few commonly held perceptions about the reality television show.
No, it wasn’t scripted.
“It has its own elements,” he said. “It was fun.”
Yes, he’s approached by people who know about him from the show.
“Most of the time when I go out, people recognize me,” Labuschagne’ said. “People see me for rugby. That’s more what I’m about.”
An American-British reality television dating game show based in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Too Hot to Handle Season 3 featured Labuschagne’ and other telegenic young men and women who are placed together in a house for a month and go through various workshops while being forbidden from hookups. The penalties are monetary prices being reduced when rules are broken.
“I was very cool being on the show,” he said. “It helped me get brand deals. I really appreciate it.”
What’s the reception like from his teammates and coaches? Well, his bros are amused by their teammate’s brush with fame.
“It’s a team sport, so they’re going to joke about it,” Labuschagne’ said. “Everyone watched my episode and laughed with me. The cool thing about rugby is the camaraderie is amazing. It makes it fun.”
Gerhardus Jacobus Labuschagne’ has lined up as a fullback, center, wing or fly-half.
During a training session at the University of the Free State, Labuschagne’ went viral for a video of him successfully executing a penalty kick from 80 meters.
“Gerrie definitely has a lot of freak attributes,” prop Pono Davis said.
Labuschagne’ previously played for the South African rugby union teams, the Golden Lions and the Pumas.
“Gerrie is an outstanding athlete,” coach Pote Human said. “He’s a hard worker and a very good person.”
Whether it’s rugby, modeling or his ongoing fitness journey, Labuschagne’ approaches it all with a singular mentality based on his enthusiasm and zest for life. Ultimately, it all comes back to his primary goal: being a good teammate.
“At the end of the day, it’s a team sport,” Labuschagne’ said. “It’s not about me individually.”
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