A TV spat that shocked SA

Ashwin Willemse addresses Nick Mallett and Naas Botha before walking off the SuperSport set.
Ashwin Willemse addresses Nick Mallett and Naas Botha before walking off the SuperSport set.

If indeed former Springbok Ashwin Willemse was branded a "quota player" by fellow SuperSport presenters "it is sad, especially in this day and age".

This was a reaction of former Lions player Mac Masina to the incident that occurred at the SuperSport studios at the weekend. Willemse walked off a live set following an apparent disagreement with Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

"I know Ashwin very well and he is a guy who doesn't crack that easily. If indeed, a world cup winner like him was labelled a quota player, then it's quite sad," Masina told Sowetan yesterday.

Though he admitted not having the full details of the Saturday drama at the Randburg studio, Masina claimed "these things have happened in the past and not many speak out or react like the way Ashwin did".

Another former Bok player, Thando Manana through Twitter, somehow added credence to Masina's claims.

"It was always going to happen on live television. Ashwin Willemse I am so glad you finally put Nick Mallet and Naas Botha in their Place," tweeted Manana yesterday.

Apart from Masina and Manana, other prominent figures weighed in on the incident, mainly in support of Willemse.

"What happened last night is a reminder to what people experience everyday. It happens in workplaces, corporate South Africa and the media. You are never 'accepted' but 'tolerated'," tweeted TV sports anchor Echbert Boezak.

Though it was unclear what really prompted Willemse outburst, Afrikaans newspaper, Rapport yesterday claimed that Mallett, while off-air, had asked the producer of Saturday's show to give Willemse an opportunity to speak first following the Lions' 42-24 win over the Brumbies on the day.

This, according to the paper, because Willemse did not get a chance to speak following the earlier match between the Sharks and Chiefs in Durban.

But Willemse apparently did not take it well and 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".

The are claims that there's been bad blood between Willemse and Mallett for some years.

SuperSport issued a statement yesterday that they would investigate the matter, while Willemse is expected to respond today.

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