• Ntunja’s magic moments will be missed

    One of the enduring takeaways from the Springboks’ ‘Chasing the Sun’ premiere is just how much revolutionary Xhosa commentator Kaunda Ntunja will be missed, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

    Sunday’s airing of the first episode in the Springboks’ World Cup documentary was a piece of broadcasting sent from heaven for rugby lovers.

    It is a sports documentary of the quality prevalent on Netflix, where there are a host of brilliant doccies, such as the sensational ‘The Last Dance’ or more recently, ‘The Playbook’.

    But this was a piece of broadcasting closer to home, and features unique insights from the Bok coaches, players and other stakeholders, which showcases just how the team went from the lows of 2016 and 2017 to the highs of winning the World Cup in 2019.

    As enjoyable as it was to hear the raw, honest insights when the first episode premiered on Sunday, it certainly wouldn’t have gone unnoticed that it was dedicated to the memory of Ntunja.

    The iconic commentator – who tragically passed away earlier this year – features posthumously in the documentary, with his epic introduction for Siya Kolisi undoubtedly one of the most memorable reflections from the opening episode.

    I happened to watch the premiere along with several other family members, and there weren’t many dry eyes in the house after Ntunja’s emotive commentary was replayed from 2018.

    It was a piece of linguistic magic that transcended any language barrier. It transcended sport, and it resonated as deeply as ever more than two years later. And more than anything, it was proudly South African.

    Only South Africans will understand the full significance of Kolisi’s appointment as the Springboks’ first black Test captain, but none could verbalise the moment quite like Ntunja did.

    It was a piece of unforgettable commentary that will forever hold a special place in South African rugby history, and it will always be an enduring part of Ntunja’s legacy.

    Who else could trigger such emotions with his powerful end to Kolisi’s introduction?

    ‘Siya is our grandson, our son, our nephew and our younger brother. He is father of Nicholas, husband of Rachel. He is Gwaji, Gqwashu, Gxiya, our leader. A cement truck with no reverse gear!’

    And, as rugby now returns, there is no denying just how much Ntunja’s colourful commentary will be missed when it comes to magic moments such as these special introductions, big tackles and memorable tries.

    Ntunja was a broadcasting magician. His commentary on the game will be dearly missed but, as Sunday’s documentary premiere proved, his imprint on the game remains indelible.

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    Craig Lewis