Mondli Gungubele: 'We have not honoured Rassie Erasmus enough'

Rassie's 'intervention in a deracialising and nation-building manner' deserves recognition

21 September 2023 - 07:05
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Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Image: David Rogers/Getty Images

Communications minister Mondli Gungubele says South Africa has failed to properly honour one of its maverick sporting sons, former Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

The Saru director of rugby not only guided the national rugby side to its third win of the William Webb Ellis trophy in 2019, but is credited for his commitment to transformation.

“I think we have not honoured Rassie enough,” said Gungubele on Wednesday.

He said the country could have done more to recognise Erasmus’ “intervention in a deracialising and nation-building manner” after the Boks’ record-setting 57—0 loss to New Zealand in 2017.

“He had no racial stereotypes; I think we have not honoured him enough.”

Erasmus took over the coaching reins in 2018 and vowed to speed up the integration of black players in the national side to reflect demographic realities in South Africa. He also gave Siya Kolisi the captaincy, making him the first black South African to lead the team.

Gungubele was answering questions in the National Assembly alongside other members of the cabinet’s economic cluster.

The EFF’s Sinawo Thambo asked about the SABC constantly reverting to sub-licensing agreements when it came to broadcasting major sporting events that could generate revenue for the entity.

Gungubele agreed that the broadcaster was expected to broadcast national sports events as provided for in the Independent Communications Authority of SA's (Icasa) sports broadcasting regulations. “We could have done more,” he said.

“But when it occurs that the right holder of those rights gives them to a subscription/pay television broadcaster, the only way for the SABC to fulfil its mandate is to sub-licence.”

Going forward, Gungubele said they expect the SABC to work differently and purchase rights of major sporting events directly instead of sub-licensing. One of the challenges with a sub-licence is that the advertisers are not able to make their advertising plans on time and by the time the sub-licence is secured, revenue-making opportunities have been lost.

The 16 games the SABC secured from MultiChoice two weeks ago will go a long way “to keep our people captured by this major event by such a committed team led by such committed leaders, Rassie and (Jacques) Nienaber”.

Gungubele said rugby was “highly followed” and becoming an example of a “nation-building type of sport”.

“We need to improve as SABC in planning for those events because these events are known [for] years to come that they are going to happen. We need to engage in that space differently because for instance, rugby is a sport that cuts across the entire society.

“It’s a sport the majority of poor people love to watch. Sport like any other sport has got such a positive impact. If we deny poor people access to such an emotional, spiritual-healing event, it can actually border on us committing crime.”


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