Picture: TIMESLIVE

SABC Radio has pulled the plug on Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. The move caught presenters and commentators by surprise.

"Not having rugby coverage is madness‚" a disgruntled rugby commentator who did not want to be named said on Wednesday.

Presenters were informed of the decision via e-mail last Friday by Orapeleng Lebethe‚ the SABC’s acting head of radio.

"Herewith to advise that we will not be able to acquire the rights for Super Rugby and the Currie Cup for 2018‚" read the e-mail. "We do though need to find the best possible way to have coverage of all forms of rugby."

"What is pissing us off [is that] in rugby, there is only Super Rugby and Currie Cup‚ so our opportunities are limited‚" said the commentator.

"In other sports like soccer you have the PSL‚ the MTN Top 8‚ the Nedbank Cup and the Telkom knock-out. Why would you take all the rugby coverage away? There is something fishy there. They are either not taking rugby seriously or they’ve decided to make it play second fiddle," he said.

"Already we don’t even have Springbok Tests live on TV."

The SABC’s decision means listeners of Umhlobo Wenene FM‚ Radio Sonder Grense‚ Lesedi FM‚ Radio 2000‚ SAFM‚ Thobela FM‚ Ligwalagwala FM and Tru FM‚ among others‚ will no longer have rugby commentary of the two major domestic competitions.

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said they were unaware of the SABC’s plans to stop radio commentary in those two competitions.

TimesLIVE asked the SABC’s Lebethe for comment but he referred all queries to the SABC’s head of communications, Kaizer Kganyago, who had yet to respond to questions sent to him.

However, inn a brief conversation on Tuesday he indicated that the SABC was finalising its budget.

The commentator argued that the corporation did not have to break the bank to secure radio commentary.

"Securing the rights shouldn’t be a problem because they aren’t expensive‚" he said. "Production costs shouldn’t be an issue either. They don’t even send people to rugby matches. What was decided last year was that we would not be travelling to the games but that we would do it in-house and commentate from the studios.

"We’ve done that to save money. The only games we travelled for were the finals‚" the source said.

"The production cost is a drop in the ocean when compared to what is spent on soccer. You have soccer matches that are being covered on different days of the week. You’d also have bizarre decisions where the Bulls may be hosting the Crusaders but they’d rather broadcast Chippa and Platinum Stars instead.

"All we are asking is to broadcast rugby matches on a Saturday."

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