Is it really 'Bok Friday' when millions of South Africans cannot watch the Springboks at the RWC? Photo: Gcina Ndwalane
Is it really 'Bok Friday' when millions of South Africans cannot watch the Springboks at the RWC? Photo: Gcina Ndwalane
Cricket writer Stuart Hess
Cricket writer Stuart Hess

JOHANNESBURG – Last year in this space I wrote about a hugely significant picture of Lungi Ngidi, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander that was taken at the end of the second Test between South Africa and Australia at St Georges Park.

That quartet of bowlers were walking off the field together after they’d helped win a crucial match in that series and the symbolism of that photo was not lost on anyone. The last time South Africa had beaten Australia in a Test series in this country was 1970, and those four, had they been alive, would not have been allowed to play.

It’s an inspirational image. It is helped by the fact that when the Proteas play at home, their matches are available through the public broadcaster - on SABC 3 and on various radio stations. Millions get to see Rabada, Maharaj, Philander and Ngidi. Those same millions won’t get to see Siya Kolisi, Faf de Klerk and Lukhanyo Am over the next few weeks.

The SABC’s failure to acquire the rights, either for television or radio for the Rugby World Cup will be an enormous hindrance for rugby’s developmental initiatives.

That the SABC can’t seem to make a World Cup a commercially viable option is deeply concerning. We know there were years of maladministration and corruption at the public broadcaster, but while so many other broadcasting organisations lean so heavily on sport to help in turning a profit, the fact that an organisation that has millions of listeners and viewers can’t is a damning indictment on the administrative leadership at the broadcaster, the South African government and lastly the SABC’s sales department.

SA Rugby will be hurt by the inability of the SABC to find the necessary financial resources to show the Rugby World Cup. How are youngsters without access to DSTV or very expensive data which could enable them to watch on-line, supposed to take a up a sport they can’t watch? 

There is scope for SA Rugby to be innovative by setting up viewing areas in impoverished communities - a sort of ‘Fan Park’ - to help in taking the World Cup to as wide an audience as possible.

Millions of South Africans will not see Siya Kolisi's Springboks playing at the RWC. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

If not, then this ‘Bok Friday’ initiative, where we’re all supposed to wear Springbok jerseys or some item of green and gold tomorrow will look pretty limp, as the overwhelming majority of South Africans can’t watch or hear how the national team is doing.

@shockerhess


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