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26th Oct 2023

Bongi Mbonambi cleared to play in World Cup final after racial allegations dropped

Callum Boyle

Bongi Mbonambi

Mbonambi was accused of making a racist comment towards England’s Tom Curry

Bongi Mbonambi will be allowed to featured in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand after an investigation into allegations that he used discriminatory language in South Africa’s semi final win against England was dropped.

The alleged slur took place in the first half of the game with the England back-row’s complaints having been picked up on Ben O’Keeffe’s ref-mic. The 25-year-old England flanker accused the South African of calling him a ‘white c**t.’

“Sir, Sir, if their hooker calls me a white c**t, what do I do?” Curry asked the New Zealand referee in the 23rd minute of the game.

O’Keeffe responded to England player’s complaints by saying “Nothing please,” before he added “I will be on it.”

Bongi MbonambiSpringboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi. (Credit: Getty)

World Rugby on the racist allegations

A statement from World Rugby confirmed that after conducting an investigation into the allegations, there was “insufficient evidence at this time to proceed with charges”.

The rest of the statement said: “World Rugby has undertaken a review of allegations made by England’s Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language by South Africa’s Mbongeni Mbonambi during the England versus South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final on Saturday along with a further allegation brought forward in recent days about a previous match in the Autumn Nations Series 2022.

“Any allegation of discrimination is taken extremely seriously by World Rugby, warranting a thorough investigation.

“Having considered all the available evidence, including match footage, audio and evidence from both teams, the governing body has determined that there is insufficient evidence at this time to proceed with charges.

“Therefore, the matter is deemed closed unless additional evidence comes to light.”

World Rugby added that they were “concerned by the social media abuse that both players have been subjected to” and that there “is no place in rugby or society for discrimination, abuse or hate speech”. It accepted that ‘Tom Curry made the allegations in good faith, and that there is no suggestion that the allegation was deliberately false or malicious’.

Mbonambi has been named in South Afrcia’s starting 15 for the game on Saturday.


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