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.