‘Boots’ tackles tighthead woe
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
Cape Town - Notoriously not the hippest, most happening individual when it comes to “new tech”, I nevertheless appreciate advances in communication that can aid television presentation.
Just one such case I can think of revolves around SuperSport’s praiseworthy, increasing use of Skype video interviews with rugby players abroad on chat show Boots & All (SS1, Thursday nights) during the Super Rugby competition.
The programme was suitably busy and varied again this week, including as it did this formula for chats from far-flung destinations with the Bulls’ Dewald Potgieter, Lions captain Josh Strauss whose beard seems at an all-time high for expansiveness - will he perhaps only be cutting it after the next win? - and also, from Ireland, veteran utility back Stefan Terblanche.
Held together astutely again by anchor Matthew Pearce (you must need your wits about you when themes and inserts are changed pretty quickly), there were also more conventional, filmed interviews locally with popular ex-players like Gary Teichmann, naturally talking Sharks, and Stormers old boy Christian Stewart ... who clearly isn’t remotely bothered about the try-shy brand of rugby being played at Newlands as long as the troops keep winning!
Of course the Skype interviews were notably inferior for both audio and visual quality, with what I’d call “facial freezing” common and sometimes a serious lag between words spoken and moving mouths - once, Potgieter had more or less ended a sentence as his lips only started to move.
But I personally reckon this medium - which ought to only get better, techies, yes? - is worth pursuing.
The 36-year-old, much-travelled Terblanche, speaking to former team-mate Bob Skinstad ahead of his fitting last game of pro rugby for Ulster in Saturday’s Heineken Cup final, was able to confirm that he is only a couple of weeks away from returning to our shores and taking up a full-time post as executive director of SA Rugby Legends.
The programme also focused, perhaps a little too briefly considering that it is an area of some scarcity, on candidates for the tighthead prop berth for the Boks against England shortly: profiles were put up on Jannie du Plessis, Pat Cilliers, CJ van der Linde, overseas-based Brian Mujati, Werner Kruger, WP Nel and Brok Harris.
The No 3 subject was discussed by Pearce, Skinstad, and in-studio panellists Naas Botha and Gcobani Bobo - perhaps not the ideal collection of people to assess that particular trade!
It cried out for input from a prop (whether tighthead or from the loosehead ranks who pack down against them). But perhaps too few of these seemingly near-extinct beasts have discovered Skype yet ...
*What do readers think of Skype video interviews? Would you rather have a “moving” picture of a sports star being interviewed, often with a time lag and a bit of sound distortion, or a better phone line and simply a stock photo, perhaps, of the player in question?
Rob’s Awesome Foursome
1. Highlanders v Bulls, Super Rugby
Dunedin, Saturday 07:30, M-Net, SS1, SHD
Because wins in New Zealand have never grown on trees, my inclination is toward the Highlanders sneaking this one – and let me stress that the Bulls clearly have every right to believe they have a fine shout themselves. Put it this way, if the tourists do get over the line at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, they will be tantalisingly on course for a 100 percent record abroad, and that would really set them up as favourites for a genuine “home run” to a fourth title! If this is to be a memorable 100th match for The Talented Mr Steyn, much will depend on the Bulls’ ability to secure good field position for his boot to get the board ticking over tidily in their favour.
2. England v West Indies, 1st cricket Test
London, to Monday 12:00, SS5
I suppose my minor bias against the Indian Premier League (just too much daily, manufactured excitement for this old cynic ...) comes through here as I ignore it once more and instead punt that grand old beast: a Test match! Yes, it’s the start of the international “summer” in England - plenty of jerseys and jackets on show at Lord’s as the game started - with West Indies basically acting as England’s three-Test tune-up for the later visit of the Proteas. This is our educative chance to see whether any obvious chinks in the home team’s armoury come to the fore - even given the sad, ongoing limitations of the once mighty men from the Caribbean.
3. Cheetahs v Sharks, Super Rugby
Bloemfontein, Saturday 17:05, M-Net, SS1, SHD
Some people felt I’d been smoking something exotic (or even not exotic) when I suggested in midweek that the Sharks actually had a chance of still winning the SA conference. I did say CHANCE, people! But my optimism for an increasing late charge by the coastal side is undimmed, and I strongly tip them to win – by a reasonable margin, too – at a venue where they have often experienced distress before. The Cheetahs have rather lost rhythm of late and, let’s face it, were equal partners in that terrible game at Newlands last week. Don’t forget the Stormers-Waratahs later kickoff (19:10) on all the same channels.
4. Bayern Munich v Chelsea, Champions League soccer final
Munich, Saturday 20:45, etv, SS3, Maximo & SHD3
It should come as no special surprise that I back Bayern - not unimportantly sporting home-ground advantage - to grab the trophy. If that happens, of course, the Blues, conquerors of mighty Barcelona en route here, don’t even crack the cut into next season’s tournament, which is a huge incentive for them to produce another giant-slaying, it’s true. Keep in mind also the Saturday afternoon climax (all games 15:00) to the tight PSL season: SuperSport shows live both critical games, Golden Arrows v Orlando Pirates (SS4) and Maritzburg United v Moroka Swallows (SS3). Expect a fair bit of split-screening, as happened enthrallingly in England last Sunday, if the race gets really ding-dong ...