Saturday, May 19, 2018

Upset commentator Ashwin Willemse walks off the SuperSport set after a live on-air verbal altercation with Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, saying he won't be patronised and work 'with people who undermine other people'.

SuperSport says it will be conducting an investigation and do interviews with everyone involved after an eye-popping live TV on-air incident on Saturday night that saw an upset commentator Ashwin Willemse walk off set after a verbal altercation in SuperSport's Randburg studio with commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, while presenter Motshidisi Mohono kept the show going.

It's not clear yet what triggered Ashwin Willemse, but in a live SuperSport broadcast scene that quickly went viral on Saturday night after the victory of the Lions of 42-24 over the Brumbies at Ellis Park, the former Springbok wing was clearly upset at both of the two other seated commentators Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

"I've been in the game for a long time like most of us here. As a player, I've been called a quota for a long time and I've worked very hard to earn the respect I have now."

"I'm not going to sit here and be patronised by these two individuals who played their rugby during the apartheid era, a segregated era," said Ashwin Willemse who meant it in reference to Nick Mallett and Naas Botha as he walked over to the anchor desk and put his papers down.

Ashwin Willemse said he "can't work with people who undermine other people".

Ashwin Willemse told a grinning Nick Mallett he can continue to laugh but that he knew what happened.

"It's fine. It's fine. I don't mind being ridiculous. I'm glad it happened on live TV so that people can see," said Ashwin Willemse as he readied his studio exit.

Anchor Motshidisi Mohono who tried to say something, interjected with "Ash". She had no time to prepare but kept the show going and said the altercation is "unfortunate" as Ashwin Willemse felt for his lapel mic and walked off set to the right.

"Well, that's unfortunate. Because the match was going so well and so was our conversation - lots of players that have done really, really well in this game as well. It would have been great to hear Ashwin's thoughts especially because he had so much to say regarding this match between the Lions and the Brumbies."

"It is an unfortunate way for us to end this, our coverage of live Super Rugby today," said Motshidisi Mohono.

SuperSport said it is "aware of the on-air incident" and is looking into the matter".

SuperSport told TVwithThinus that "SuperSport views this incident in a very serious light - we will conduct a full investigation and interview all relevant individuals."

Afterwards the live on-air incident that quickly went viral triggered mixed reactions from a wide group of South Africans on social media, some praising Ashwin Willemse and some criticising him.