Yes, TV pulls rugby strings

2012-02-17 08:43

It’s not every day that around 70 000 people crammed into a stadium - and even with the floodlights working fine! - are told minutes before scheduled kick-off of a Test rugby match that it has been called off.

So South African TV viewers were as bemused as everyone else, I’m sure, when the plug was pulled on last Saturday night’s tasty France v Ireland Six Nations encounter just as SuperSport’s studio panel - anchor Gerald de Kock and guest Dion O’Cuinneagain, the Rondebosch old boy and former Ireland loose forward - thought the crossing to Paris for live coverage had come.

Needless to say there was a worldwide media backlash, with some particularly strong views coming from Peter Bills in the New Zealand Herald, under a headline: “Paris debacle reveals sport controlled by television”.

Personally, I found those words about as illuminating as something like “Cops can be corrupt”, given that TV’s influence has been massive - only increasingly so - across all major ball games for many years, but he did make some forceful points all the same.

With the scheduling of the game for 21:00 (22:00 in SA terms) in the middle of February, coldest month of the northern winter, the unusually deep-rooted “big freeze” always seemed likely to put the fixture at risk.

As Bills said: “Here was conclusive evidence, if still needed, that the Great God of TV now runs this sport; the IRB long ago ceded control to the men with money.

“Given the forecast for the weekend weather, there was no earthly reason why this match could not have been called off 24 hours earlier; only the arrogance of the rugby authorities prevented such sense.”

He was right on that particular score, but also showed a certain gullibility, I felt, in then asking: “Why is it New Zealand can’t play a major Test match now with a 15:00 kick-off? Families would hugely benefit and conditions (be) far more conducive to producing skills than one which begins at 19:30 on a cold, damp winter’s night.”

Admirable sentiment, in theory, but if the All Blacks were hosting arch-rivals the Springboks, for instance, they’d almost always have to - and even want to? - bow these days to the much larger, telly-watching constituency in South Africa, altogether less keen to awaken at 04:30 in our winter than around 08:30 or thereabouts.

Like it or lump it, TV revenue - and by extension, convenience of scheduling to serve television’s needs - dictates rugby’s health, not the loyal, sometimes long-suffering souls who drag their sodden shoes through stadium turnstiles.

I can’t see any change to that situation soon ...

Rob’s Awesome Foursome

1. Lions v New Age Impi, T20 Challenge cricket
Potchefstroom, Friday 18:00, SS2, CSN & SHD

Ah, first look at the new, much-touted seventh franchise! Paul Collingwood’s side are up against the Lions in “Potch” or their opener and it should give us a good idea of their competitiveness. Although usefully infused by some overseas names, the side has certain similarities to the Impalas, the team drawn from several minor provinces which campaigned in the Benson & Hedges night series between 1984 and 1994. Just for the record, the Impalas played their last match against Eastern Province in PE in January 1994 - featuring such names as Wayne Schonegevel, Finley Brooker and Gary Kirsten’s wicketkeeping younger brother Paul - and went down by 91 runs.   

2. Kaizer Chiefs v Moroka Swallows, PSL soccer
Soweto, Saturday 18:00, SS4 & SHD

The break in the campaign was so prolonged that it almost felt as if a new campaign had just started on Wednesday night! In reality, of course, we are at a reasonably advanced stage of the season and this important encounter pits third-placed Chiefs against the team in fourth. Swallows come off a cobwebs-banishing victory over ailing Santos, whilst the Amakhosi were probably a little disappointed to be held 1-1 by Jomo Cosmos. (Mind you, it took a late Majoro strike just to bank a lone point.) Back in mid-August, Chiefs won the first-round meeting between these two old rivals 2-0 at Dobsonville.

3. Sunderland v Arsenal, FA Cup soccer
Sunderland, Saturday 19:15, SS3, Maximo & SHD3

Several Premiership teams play minnows in the fifth round of the Cup this weekend, but this is a decent-looking fixture between two sides both in the top league. The stakes have been raised quite a  lot, too, from a Gunners perspective because this competition now seems to represent their last crack at silverware for the season, following their Euro first-leg fiasco in Milan in midweek. Even the most patient of Arsenal fans are now turning on long-time boss Arsene Wenger: I wonder what his future holds if the Black Cats - contrastingly resurgent under Martin O’Neill! - snatch this one? Last weekend these teams met at the same venue in the Premiership, with the visitors perhaps a little fortunate to claim all three points in a 2-1 win.

4. New Zealand v South Africa, 2nd T20 international cricket
Hamilton, Sunday 08:00, SS2, CSN & SHD

By the time you read this, the first Twenty20 international at Wellington may well be just about over, so instead here’s a punt for the second of the three at Hamilton - it’s an attractive accompaniment for your Sunday breakfast. Remember that this not being on South African soil, SABC television coverage sadly ceases to exist, so if you don’t have DStv you’ll have to knock on the door of a friend. This trio of games really marks the start of the Proteas getting their ducks back in a row for the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka later in the year, so how new faces like Richard Levi and Marchant de Lange (assuming he is blooded in this format) perform is going to be of major interest.


  • Hoo - 2012-02-17 09:28

    @rob houwing- pls write correctly- it's NOT the Great God of TV- it is the great god of tv. There is only One Great God, Creator of everything, Ruler of the universe, Lord of all, Father of His children and His Son Jesus Christ Saviour of the lost, thank you!!!.. And if you want to know who the anti-Christ oracle is- yes your right, your employer 'world media and their bosses with the money&power’..see the light??

      Jason - 2012-02-17 09:36

      Who Hoo?

      Champ - 2012-02-17 10:59

      Thanks Hoo! Big thumbs up!!!

      Flemjob - 2012-02-17 11:41

      There are dozens of great Creator Gods. The one you believe in is based on here you were born. There isn't anything original or unique about the God you believe in. It is simply a copy of other myths. And how is Jesus a saviour or sacrifice, if he came back to life and then went to heaven? He didn't die for you, he came back back to life. Think about it. Ruler of the universe? Well he's very similar to Kim Jong il.

      toppy81 - 2012-02-17 12:55

      @Hoo , Its called Hyperbole you muppet

  • Jason - 2012-02-17 09:36

    If you dont have DSTV get yourself a DSTV walka and pay the 35 rand a month. I got one,which is free for premium subscribers, so i can watch the sport while im at work. Its a fantastic little gadget. Busy watching the SA v NZ T20 and its perfect.

      hvanderlinde - 2012-02-17 15:03

      I hope you're getting paid for this

  • Charlie - 2012-02-17 10:59

    Good points Rob. So by extension, why should the Sharks bother with going across the drag to the dreary football stadium which they would not own. Play the games at the old Kings Park and according to the ne H&S regs, blow out the fans and play to an empty stadium. It will be a bit like that movie "Wag the Dog". By the way, nobody in Commerce or Industry seems to give a toss about H&S, so why should the Sharks?

      Bluey - 2012-02-17 20:23

      Who are the perienial cellar dwellars, who needs a 6th team, we aren't going to budge and if we did we'd bring in Taranaki to thrash the Lions. Nothing to do with SANZA, it's only SARU and we are calling your bluff........Go for it

  • Bluey - 2012-02-17 18:12

    Here's the reality: The Lions v Kings need has nothing to do with SANZAR, as for gate sales, silly yet silly.....don't try and confuse yourselves concerning 16 because we'll go else where. Don't confuse SARU with SANZAR......if you want to get out then do it, here's something that CC wannabees forget, we don't care.....GO FOR IT, regarding the Curry, Ranfurly shield means more as is tri-nations GO for IT, I think you'll find that we don't Ranfurly Sheid.....go for it. Saffas have this make-believe that S15 relies on NZ/OZ, apparently our coaches ie Peachy, Johno says otherwise The best thing that could ever happen is if we called your bluff GO HITHER Allmost forgot, remember when saffas accused NZ for "poaching" hmmmmmmmm, Samoans are realistically born in NZ Can't wait for the next excuse

      Bootman - 2012-02-17 19:33

      Dude, against my better judgement, I read your post about four times............and could still make no sense of it whatsoever. WTF are you on about man!!!! What excuse are you talking about. It seems like every now and then you get the urge to sit down in front of your PC and write gobbledygook. Some time you get that urge, pull your right hand back and give yourself one in the teeth, retard..............BULLS ARE FAIRIES

      Bluey - 2012-02-17 20:06

      @Bootman What's the price in Rnd concerning gate tickets compared to dollars? Dude.....Tickets? 1 dollar equals 7 rand (NZ$) as for tv rights, I think we've done our dash and would prefer a Trans-tasman cup I think SA would be surprised how we don't need you. We arn't going to buckle and as far as S/16 goes, it wo'nt happen and incidently it has nothing.......ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with SANZAR, it's SARU......if you don't like it then leave (As simple as).......GO for it, can't wait, as for dictating? 16....nah, hold firm and go because we have bigger eggs to fry

      Bluey - 2012-02-17 21:31

      And incidentally, this is exactly what happens when I get pissed and start spouting bollocks......I love beer yet I hate hang overs hence the not sleeping format although the sweet taste of victory never went a miss 16 teams? don't waste your time, 15 or nothing. We aren't dictating and if truth be told it's SARU trying to cover up for your mishaps.....don't try and bring SANZAR into your argument and don't bring in your politics amongst our's nothing to do with us, it's your mistake......politics and sport wont wash in NZ, either break the agreement which is null and void, or drop a team ie Lions/cheetahs. Nothing to do with SANZAR, it's SARU's issue.......drop one or boycott, we didn't make the rules

  • Bluey - 2012-02-17 20:47

    @Bootman Here's the reality, we don't need SA as much as you want to believe especially concerning ticket/gate sales.......our dollar compared to your rand is 8 to other words you'll need 8 people to pay for 1 person/spectator FACT: A standard general admission price costs $30 compared to the rand R210, when Saffas confuse yourselves about who wants who concerning tv/advertisement rights then you'd realise that our commercial rights are world reknown Here's a clue regarding tv rights compared to saffa rights.....have you ever noticed that NZ have sponsors regarding Banks, Ford, etc Bring on Asia/South America/Pacific Is especially tv rights and as for "DSTV" nah, SA would be able to afford our satellites whereas America/Pacific can and do The day that SA pays for our equivalent regarding ticket prices compared to dollars will be the day that we take you seriously. I think it's about time SA started paying percentage wise, cut a long story short bro......we are starting to look at our options and Asia/America/Pacific are looking good with a dollar for dollar recumberance return

  • Bluey - 2012-02-17 20:59

    May I suggest, how about a petition to stop Saffas playing in our tri-nations......let's wear arm bands and whinge.......actually, how about this beaut, why don't we allow Argentina and tell SA where to go AND wear arm bands Stop complaining

  • Bluey - 2012-02-17 21:13

    I'll paint a picture concerning TV and broadcasting/advertisement rights Up until 2015/16 SA can't do buggar all and yet we can't wait.....I'd prefer it if SA buckles first because we're starting (starting as in 10 years ago) to realize that no matter what you'll still whinge. Here's a suggestion, pull out of the agreement (SANZAR) and find your fortunes elsewhere. We've done our dash.....GOOD RIDDANCE

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