SuperSport to hold talks with Mallett, Botha after Willemse walk-out

Ashwin Willemse during the 2017 Super Rugby Season launch at SuperSport Studios. (Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Ashwin Willemse during the 2017 Super Rugby Season launch at SuperSport Studios. (Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Pay-channel SuperSport will on Monday hold discussions with pundits Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

Fellow analyst Ashwin walked off during a live broadcast on Saturday night following an apparent disagreement with fellow analysts Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

Willemse spoke of being labelled a “quota player” and refused to be “patronised by two individuals who played in an apartheid/segregated era”.

Willemse went on to say he “can’t work with people who undermine other people” and that he was “glad it happened on live TV so that people can see”.

Clinton van der Berg, SuperSport’s spokesperson, told Netwerk24 that they held “preliminary talks” with Willemse on Sunday and will hold talks with Mallett and Botha on Monday regarding the incident.

He said SuperSport was “busy with an investigation to gather all the facts” but “views the incident in a serious manner”.

The company will also seek legal advice regarding the contractual obligations of the three rugby analysts.

When probed whether the issue was of a racial nature, Van der Berg said all aspects of the matter will be investigated on Monday.

While SuperSport remains mum on the in-studio event, Sunday newspaper  Rapport claimed that Mallett, while off-air, had asked the television producer to give Willemse an opportunity to speak first following the Lions’ 42-24 win over the Brumbies in Johannesburg.

Mallett requested this as Willemse did not get a chance to speak following the earlier match between the Sharks and Chiefs in Durban.

The report further claimed Willemse interpreted this request as patronising - which led to his outburst.

SA Rugby, meanwhile, also responded on the matter on Monday.

“We were as surprised and concerned as the rest of the rugby community by Saturday evening’s incident on SuperSport,” an SA Rugby spokesperson said.

“It would not be fair to make snap judgements. However, something was clearly amiss and it reflected poorly on rugby. This is a SuperSport matter and we have asked to be kept informed on the process of the investigation.” — Sport 24

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