SuperSport Rugby Challenge – reflection before the storm
April 13, 2018

With the second season of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge almost upon us – the new season kicks off on April 21 – the tournament heads into its second installment having succeeded in ticking off pretty much all the boxes it set out to. The competition was meant to take rugby to the masses, unearth new talent and bridge the playing gap to Super Rugby.

With all those objectives achieved in how popular the festivals to the township communities were, the emergence of the likes of Aphiwe Dyantyi and a way for non-franchise sides to sharpen up for the Currie Cup, Gideon Khobane and Mark Alexander, on behalf of partners SuperSport and SA Rugby, reflected on last year and looked forward to the season ahead.

Gideon Khobane (SuperSport International Chief Executive Officer)

I thought that the first season of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge was a success. We’ve taken rugby to the people, introduced Sunday rugby, as well as provided a platform for younger players to showcase their talent and skill in front of a live television audience. In addition, we have introduced live rugby to all tiers of DStv from the Access package right up to Premium.

Our partnerships with the Community TV stations on the DStv platform has also been strengthened by SuperSport’s availing of all the games to those channels at no charge.

My highlights have been those fixtures where we took the games to the various townships around SA – Mdantsane in particular (Sisa Dukashe Stadium) – where the fans came out in their thousands. Having matriculated at an all boys’ school in the Eastern Cape, I’ve always known that rugby is loved by all South Africans no matter their colour. Another highlight for me is the youngsters that work on our Rugby Challenge productions, cameramen and women, commentators, presenters, directors and producers ... the tournament enables us to groom our on-air and off-air talent of the future.

I would love to see more and more fans in the stadiums. The players train really hard and a lot of resources are put behind the tournament, so it would be great to see the public embrace the tournament even further. I would like to see some of the players graduating to the Currie Cup and the SuperRugby teams in the near future!

Mark Alexander (SA Rugby President)

The one thing that impressed me about the SuperSport Rugby Challenge was the crowd participation. We had good spectators all over South Africa. When we held this competition at traditional rugby facilities it wasn’t well-attended. By bringing it to people like this all of a sudden you’ve got people back in the game.

These were communities in which rugby was played for over a hundred years and all of a sudden after unity we took rugby away from them. These aren’t people who will go to Newlands, but these are people who support club rugby.

I think the way to do it (going forward) is that none of these games should be played at traditional stadiums – they should only be played at community stadiums. You can see that the mood about rugby has changed so this is where you have go, if you want this to be the game of the people you have to take it to the people. Also all the younger players who were third or fourth in line in their unions have had an opportunity to play and we’ve unearthed some talented players like Aphiwe Dyantyi and Madosh Tambwe – that’s an important aspect of the tournament.


Copyright - SA Rugby. All Rights Reserved - Photos by Gallo Images