Worcester scrum-half Francois Hougaard has opened up on long-running rumours that a text message he sent to Reeva Steenkamp led to her brutal murder by Oscar Pistorius six years ago.
Steenkamp, a model and television presenter, was shot dead by Pistorius through the bathroom door of his Pretoria home in the early hours of Valentine’s Day 2013.
Pistorius, the first double amputee to run at the Olympic Games, is serving a prison sentence of more than 13 years.
Reports at the time placed Springbok halfback Hougaard in the middle of the media inquest, claiming he sent a text message to Steenkamp which sparked a row.
“Reeva and I dated for quite a while,” Hougaard told the Daily Mail.
“One of my best mates phoned me at seven o’clock when I was playing golf to tell me what had happened. He was the first to get to the house. It’s a shock when you hear something like that, isn’t it? It’s tough.
“Everyone was saying I sent Reeva a message and that’s why he shot her. I had nothing to do with her any more but it’s all people were asking me about. Mentally, that was a really tough thing to go through.
“It was tough because rugby is 80 per cent mental. If you’re not mentally where you need to be, then you’re not going to play well,
“I went to see a psychologist to talk about it. That taught me to deal with negative situations. That taught me to turn things into positive fuel and not to sulk.
“When you’re young, you might wake up with a sore shoulder and think ‘Ah, I’m not really keen for training’. Once something really seriously bad happens, it just adds some perspective. You don’t sulk about getting dropped or a niggle. It makes you appreciate what you’ve got.”
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