On Saturday in the Currie Cup fixture between Western Province and The Sharks, a Western Province player by the name of Jaco Coetzee was anointed with a different name.
It was Coetzee’s first start for the union in this year’s Currie Cup but it was by no means his debut for the union, in fact, he was a regular performer for last years Currie Cup winning team. A player you think would be a familiar face to veterans of the broadcasting box.
Yet, Robbie Kempson, a decorated Springbok in his own right along with Gavin Rich, one of the longest-serving Supersport commentators, repeatedly called Coetzee by the name of an up and coming Province eighth man, Juarno Augustus.
Augustus, in fairness, to said commentators did start the first five fixtures of the Currie Cup season in the no. 8 jersey for Western Province and was down to start against the Sharks when the teams where announced midweek.
I have nothing personal against any broadcaster, but this kind of error happens far too often and after the debacle of the Ashwin Willemse saga it is getting tiring to deal with what feels like just a basic lack of effort and preparation on the part of commentary and studio crews bringing rugby to our screens.
That is an unjust generalisation, and not all who work for the only broadcaster who cover rugby in South Africa (grateful) fall into this category but it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the steady stream of basic errors.
To illustrate the point further, the two players in focus here happen to be from different racial backgrounds. On the field, Augustus also happens to wear a scrum cap while Coetzee does not and the two also look unmistakably different in height and build which makes the commentators repeated error that much more obvious.
Augustus also happens to be relatively well known considering his short professional career, having represented the junior Boks with aplomb, he has gained a healthy reputation early in his career for being a player with a bright future. He is a face well known to anyone who follows the game in South Africa, let alone to those who work in a professional capacity within South African rugby.
What is even more frustrating is that they did it for an entire half of rugby, possibly longer (I couldn’t keep watching), without rectifying or apologising for their mistake.
A clear example that both commentators did not do a very good job of compiling their pre-game notes and talking points and makes one wonder how they: 1. didn’t notice, 2. whether they did and thought it would be best to continue calling him by another players name, 3. or whether they had no clue, which begs the question, why are they calling games as a profession?
This is not intended to be outrightly rude or dismissive of the quality of pre, post and in-game information we receive but it’s getting harder and harder not to notice the difference in analyst and commentary quality when compared to other sports broadcasters that we regularly see through watching Test matches, Super Rugby and even the Mitre 10 Cup. That’s not to mention the professionalism that we witness when watching the broadcasting of Premier League Football.
It’s not a big deal in reality but it is unprofessional which in turn makes it harder for us, the viewing public who happen to pay a small fortune for the pleasure of watching rugby in South Africa, to take the people we see on our screens seriously.
That is a disservice to many of them and what they have achieved in the game and their careers.
Maybe its time to start looking outside of just past players to bring some desire and greater professionalism to a job that should not be taken overtly casually.