In a surreal end to the rugby weekend, things got distinctly awkward after former Springbok winger and SuperSport pundit Ashwin Willemse walked out of the studio live on air.
Employed as the video analyst for the Super Rugby match between the Lions and Brumbies, Willemse didn’t even bother to present his video clips to viewers at the conclusion of the game.
Instead, he was clearly ticked off by comments made by the two other members of the panel, Nick Mallett and Naas Botha, and accused both men of undermining him in studio.
VIDEO: Ashwin Willemse slams Nick Mallett and Naas Botha before walking off the SuperSport set. pic.twitter.com/iYl0yRFfUu
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) May 19, 2018
“It’s important for me because I’ve played this game for a long time, like all of us here,” said Willemse.
“As a player, I was labelled a quota player for a long time. I’ve worked hard to earn my respect in this game. I’m not going to be patronised by two individuals who played in the Apartheid era, in the era of segregation. I won’t be undermined.”
He then proceeded to put down his notes while continuing: “I’m not going to work with people who undermine other people. You can sit and laugh about it. It’s fine, I don’t mind being ridiculous. I’m happy people can see this.”
While there was no concrete indication of what truly had set Willemse off, there was distinct tension between him and Botha moments earlier.
Asked to give his thoughts on the two Brumbies cards and the effect it had on the outcome of the match, Willemse immediately “sacrificed” his platform.
“Naas … I think. What did you think of the game? Did you think it was a good game,” he said.
Botha replied, laughing: “I’ve used all the time before the game. It’s your time now.”
The rest of the panel laughs but Willemse clearly remains irritated.
“Please, I think don’t let us patronise each other here. Please, let’s have your view.”
Botha is dumbstruck by it all, leading Mallett to give his views.
This seemed to prompt Willemse to finally lose his patience and just give up on it all.
Naturally, Twitter was abuzz with polarised views.
Naas Botha saw his life flash before his eyes when Ashwin Willemse walked towards him.
— Iron duke (@Iron_Duke89) May 19, 2018
Ashwin Willemse is a rugby Legend who played with his heart for him to loose his cool and risk his job something must've happened to trigger it #superugby
— Big Pappa (@pumlani18) May 19, 2018
Ashwin Willemse has just accused Nick and Naas of being apartheid era Rugby players and being patronizing and then walked off on live TV…absolutely pathetic
— Riaan Gous (@GousRiaan) May 19, 2018