SABC’s top job on Bok game
Rob Houwing’s ‘Tops on the Telly’ column
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
If defending champions South Africa generally earned very good marks once more in their point-a-minute Rugby World Cup disposal of Namibia, SABC2 came up trumps too in their presentation of this rare “derby” encounter.
I made a point of watching all of the build-up, the game itself and post-match analysis on the national broadcast channel and was pleasantly surprised.
I guess I am sometimes as guilty as many others who have access to SuperSport in instinctively taking that route during RWC 2011, given that they have all tournament games and the SABC only a certain (albeit still fairly generous) allocation - so in a near-reflex action I tend to just punch in “201” on the remote control and know there’ll be a game on.
But the SABC’s fare for the North Harbour meeting could not be quibbled with in any significant way … or so I thought, at least.
A Sport24 reader had indicated in a comments posting to this column last week that they’d been rolling out some impressively heavyweight studio panelists and so it proved again: previous Springbok RWC-winning heroes in Hennie le Roux and Os du Randt (twice in his case, of course) offered immediate credibility.
And the rest of the Auckland Park quartet on the day was made up of a bit of an ex-SuperSport firm in anchor Tony Ndoro, who has a relaxed and pleasant manner, and veteran rugby writer Dan Retief, who covered the infamous “demo tour” of New Zealand in 1981.
Former specialist newspaperman Retief has always been particularly good with his statistical knowledge, useful treasure chest of memories and diligent research.
The pure legend of Du Randt, who was also the Boks’ scrumming consultant until he left under a bit of a cloud not too long ago, means he will always be a sought-after pundit, whilst Le Roux tends not to pull punches and can pinpoint strong and weak areas in the Bok game-plan in a “no-waffle” sort of way.
SABC2 picked up the “international” commentary on the game itself, and it was interesting to hear Stu Wilson, the All Blacks wing of the 1970s and early 80s, hailing Morne Steyn’s “good all-round skills set” as well as offering more predictable praise for his place-kicking …
clearly not all New Zealanders view the Bulls pivot as a mere robot.Rob’s Awesome Foursome:
1. Warriors v Royal Challengers Bangalore, Champions League T20 cricket
Bangalore, Friday 16:30, SS2 & SH2
After an unusually lengthy (these days, anyway) off-season, the South African summer could be said to get underway at last – even if it’s faraway India that is hosting two of our franchises in the Warriors and Cape Cobras for the third edition of the Champions League. Last season’s runners-up from the Eastern Cape open their tourney account against the big-name home franchise in Bangalore -- in a game which immediately sees them oppose a compatriot blue-chip player in the shape of AB de Villiers. Other stellar names in the Challengers’ ranks include Messrs Gayle, Dilshan and Kohli, so this is a rather stiff little cobwebs-remover for Johan Botha and company …2. New Zealand v France, Rugby World Cup
Auckland, Saturday 10:30, M-Net, SS1 & SHD
After all the hullabaloo surrounding France’s “second string” line-up named for this long-awaited decider of the Pool A winners, it will be a relief just to get the rugby on the go! I still have a sneaky feeling we’ll get an up-tempo ‘un, with a few French fringe players perhaps seeing it as a chance to push for more regular starts. The All Blacks, on the other hand, are very much in A-team mode anyway, and considering the RWC bogey they have against these foes, will just want to “kick butt” emphatically and feel they’ve broken the jinx, I’m sure. SABC-watchers should note that this game isn’t live on the national broadcaster; there’s a full delayed version at 23:00 on SABC2 if you can wait that long. 3. Western Province v Cheetahs, Absa Currie Cup rugby
Cape Town, Saturday 17:05, M-Net & SS1
It’s another weekend featuring two bumper Saturday afternoon games (as if the RWC feast isn’t enough). Coming just after the Lions-Bulls Highveld derby (15:00), this could be a real make-or-break affair for last season’s finalists Province … lose a second match on the trot and they could be in a whole heap of home semi pain, considering that even more taxing away matches against the Sharks and Lions follow. Riddled with injury woes, the WP side is looking more and more junior, so I chewed long and hard on this one before suggesting in my SuperBru tip that the hosts, sensing the urgency of their task, would sneak it by a solitary point. And they’ll do well to achieve that … on paper the Cheetahs certainly look better equipped for grunt and experience. 4. F1 Singapore Grand Prix, motorsport
Singapore, Sunday 14:00, SS6, CSN, Maximo & SH2
The night-time, street circuit race hasn’t taken long at all to establish itself as a major, new-world drawcard for F1 fans. An extra lure is the possibility that a podium finish will be enough to crown -- very early -- the champion: that increasingly machine-like German Sebastian Vettel. But Fernando Alonso, 112 points adrift in second place on the drivers’ points list, won in Singapore last year and will do everything he can to delay the near-inevitable. Neutrals, of course, will back him in that quest, to try to take the fate of the championship much closer to its scheduled finish five further races up the drag.