derick hougaard, loftus, springbok

Derick Hougaard has suffered extensive health struggles over the years. Images via X: @derickhougaard/TORSTEN BLACKWOOD, AFP

‘Mixed pills and booze’: Inside Derick Hougaard’s health struggles

From a brutal Springbok tackle to substance abuse: ‘Liefling van Loftus’ Derick Hougaard’s health struggles have been a long time coming.

derick hougaard, loftus, springbok

Derick Hougaard has suffered extensive health struggles over the years. Images via X: @derickhougaard/TORSTEN BLACKWOOD, AFP

Former Springbok Derick Hougaard – fondly known as the “Liefling van Loftus” – has been reportedly admitted into a psychiatric hospital. The former Blue Bulls player has been in the spotlight for years over his physical and mental well-being.

In various interviews and social media posts, Derick has confessed to struggling with heavy drinking and addiction to prescription pills – sometimes mixing them together.

In 2023, the 41-year-old spent several weeks in ICU after contracting respiratory pneumonia. Derick had been found unconscious in his Pretoria home by his then-partner, Afrikaans singer Nadine.


According to the Citizen, Derick Hougaard is set to spend a lengthy period of time in a Gauteng psychiatric hospital over his pain and sleeping pill addiction.

The publication claims that the former Springbok had been living in controversial diamond dealer Louis Liebenberg’s home in an attempt to stay clean. 

Derick reportedly relapsed, forcing his family to take drastic measures.

WATCH: A peek into Derick Hougaard's story
Photos: Facebook/Derick Hougaard

His legal representative, Walter Niedinger, said: “Where he is now, he is completely cut off from the outside world. He does not have access to a mobile phone. We can’t contact him either.

“It is in his best interest that he gets the necessary medical help now. His team of doctors keep us informed.”

Derick is set to undergo extensive tests and scans to determine any brain damage after years of substance abuse.


Derick Hougaard’s health struggles have often overshadowed his illustrious career as a Springbok and Blue Bulls player, who made his debut at Loftus at 19 years old.

In 2003, the star athlete suffered a significant blow to the head during the Rugby World Cup. This, after he was knocked out by Samoa’s Brian Lima in a brutal yet legal tackle, according to SA Rugby.

Speaking to Jacaranda FM in 2015, Derick stated that years of concussions had left him with headaches and forgetfulness. 

He said: “All the head injuries and knocks I took on the rugby field are now catching up with me.”

Derick claimed that he had undergone an MRI scan and that the minor damage could be treated with medication. 

Before he retired from rugby in 2015, Derick also suffered various other injuries, like a torn shoulder ligament and a ruptured Achilles tendon.


In the 2023 KykNET docuseries Hougaard: Liefling van Loftus, Derick admitted to heavy drinking and dependency on sleeping pills and pain medication.

He also claimed he had spiralled into a deep depression after his rugby career was cut short. This was catapulted by his 2015 divorce from singer Karlien van Jaarsveld and financial constraints after losing his TV presenter job at SuperSport over his controversial comments about transformation.

In the self-titled 2023 biography Derick Hougaard, author Brendan Nel wrote about the player’s long history of addiction.

An excerpt from an interview in the book reflected on Derick’s struggle to adapt to life after rugby.

He said: “This is one of the biggest gaps in my life. I always knew rugby was my passion, yes. But you don’t realize how big a role it plays in your life until you lose it. You don’t realize how big a void it will cause when you are no longer actively involved in it.”

Derick then again admitted to his addiction struggles: “It takes a man to ask for help or to admit that you need help. There are ugly and difficult times behind me, especially when I mix the pills and booze.”