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‘South Africans are fiercely protective of their sausages’ – The pro rugby players behind Hellbent boerewors

Missing the tastes of home proved meaty for former Ulster Rugby duo Louis Ludik and Schalk van der Merwe, after a trial cooking of the signature sausage of South Africa turned into a €400,000 business deal

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Boerewors — a type of South African sausage, which are made from Irish beef, from Hellbent

Boerewors — a type of South African sausage, which are made from Irish beef, from Hellbent

Former rugby players and owners of Hellbent Irish Boerewors Louis Ludik, left, and Schalk Van der Merwe

Former rugby players and owners of Hellbent Irish Boerewors Louis Ludik, left, and Schalk Van der Merwe

Hellbent founders Louis Ludik, left, and Schalk van der Merwe at a display of their products

Hellbent founders Louis Ludik, left, and Schalk van der Merwe at a display of their products

Former Ulster Rugby player Louis Ludik is tackled by Jamie Ritchie of Edinburgh during a Guinness PRO14 match in 2018. Picture by Paul Devlin/Sportsfile

Former Ulster Rugby player Louis Ludik is tackled by Jamie Ritchie of Edinburgh during a Guinness PRO14 match in 2018. Picture by Paul Devlin/Sportsfile

Boerewors, a type of sausage, from Hellbent, which are traditionally cooked on an open fire in South Africa

Boerewors, a type of sausage, from Hellbent, which are traditionally cooked on an open fire in South Africa

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Boerewors — a type of South African sausage, which are made from Irish beef, from Hellbent

It was at a barbecue in September 2018 that South African rugby players Louis Ludik and Schalk van der Merwe first thought they might be on to something. As guests gathered around the fire, the pair got ready to grill some freshly made boerewors, the iconic coiled spiced sausage from home.

The two were playing rugby professionally for Ulster Rugby at the time and had taken the day off to hang out with friends, neighbours and teammates for Van der Merwe’s son’s fourth birthday. Both missed the traditions of home, such as braai — as barbecues are known in that part of the world — and the signature boerewors that feature heavily in outdoor cook-ups back in South Africa.


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