In an effort to promote greater gender equality in the realm of sport, the SABC has partnered with Mastercard to increase the media coverage of women’s grassroots rugby.
The partnership will see the SABC air a new weekly programme, titled Women’s Rugby Round-Up, which will dedicated exclusively to women’s rugby content and will run for 16 weeks.
The new programme will air on SABC on Sundays and will include as part of their line-up highlights from the Mastercard Women’s Pirates Grand Challenge and the Mastercard Golden Lions Women rugby team.
It will also take viewers behind the scenes with players, coaches and referees.
According to SABC’s head of sport Gary Rathbone, women’s rugby is one of the fastest growing sports across the world, with more than 2.7 million players.
However, despite the rapid growth, women’s rugby continues to face challenges in many areas such as media presence and sponsorship.
YouGov’s 2021 Women in Sport report showed that men’s sport has twice the audience as it’s women’s sport, with 40% of respondents saying the reason they do not engage in women’s sport was because of the lack of media coverage.
Another study done in 2010, titled the Gender and Media Progress Study – Southern Africa, showed that sport had become the most widely covered topic in the South African media, accounting for over a quarter of all news coverage.
Despite this, only 13% of stories covered women’s sport.
“Women’s sport is the cornerstone of the SABC Sport content proposition and showing women’s rugby every weekend on our platforms is an exciting part of that strategy,” Rathbone said.
“As the national broadcaster, we reach millions of South Africans across the country, and we know that this show can inspire South African women everywhere to become part of this exciting game.”
“With Mastercard now on board, we can look forward to delivering an even greater on-air experience with our show that will be enjoyed not only by fans of the women’s game, but by all of South Africa’s rugby fans – regardless of gender or age.”
Pirates Women’s Rugby Club head coach Chanel Alberts said that women were taking an increasing interest in rugby and sport as a whole.
“When the Jozi Women’s Cup Tournament started in 2017 there were only four teams participating and today the tournament will see 12 teams compete for the champion position. This highlights that more women are now interested in participating in sport as they appreciate the support and recognition,” said Alberts.
“Having the sports broadcast on national television will inspire more women to take part and continue growing women sports.”