SA Rugby celebrates #WorldRadioDay with Unesco
February 13, 2018
Radio is without peer as a powerful broadcast medium to reach the hearts and minds of people without access to other forms of communication – even during these times of high-speed internet access and social media.

This year, SA Rugby is celebrating #WorldRadioDay with Unesco, on 13 February. The theme for 2018 is “Radio and Sports” and in South Africa, this medium is as part of the rugby landscape as pole protectors, corner flags and oval balls.

Rugby on radio in South Africa has a strong and rich tradition – commentators such as Mthuthuzeli Scott, Johan Rademan and Zolani Bongco have kept listeners glued to their radios for years.

With roughly 60 national and provincial commercial stations, and hundreds of community stations across the country, radio is the one medium through which people in the far corners of South Africa can be reached – in each of the 11 official languages.

This was echoed by former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar, who led the Boks to the Rugby World Cup title in 1995, when he was famously handed the Webb Ellis Cup by Nelson Mandela waring the No 6 Springbok jersey.

Pienaar told that the media were central to keeping the South African public informed about their journey to the title.

“Especially radio,” said Pienaar.

“Because in the far outlying rural areas of South Africa, the townships, people would just have radio and not really television – and they would have been glued to the radio listening to the matches and the results.”

With reports surfacing recently that live rugby broadcasts could be reduced this year, there was outcry in South Africa, and SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander, told the media: “We know that many people across the country enjoy rugby commentary on their radio.

“Rugby is a powerful medium and we have to find a solution to ensure rugby matches are broadcast on radio and that this service is not eroded. We have to do this. It is the broadest base for us to reach people.”

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