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World Rugby to investigate Boks’ Mbonambi for ‘racial slur’

The Springboks' Bongi Mbonambi during the 2023 Rugby World Cup semifinal against England at Stade de France on Saturday.
The Springboks' Bongi Mbonambi during the 2023 Rugby World Cup semifinal against England at Stade de France on Saturday.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Bongi Mbonambi’s participation in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand has been presented a fresh challenge after World Rugby chose to formally investigate the allegation he used a racial slur in the Springboks’ semifinal win over England.

The Springbok stand-in captain is alleged to have made the slur against England flank Tom Curry in the 28th minute of the tense and at times tetchy semifinal, won 16-15 by South Africa at Stade de France in Paris.

Though the alleged slur is not audible on the referee’s microphone, The Telegraph on Sunday published an audio recording of Curry complaining to referee Ben O’Keeffe that Mbonambi called him a “white c**t” in the Boks’ 16-15 win at Stade de France on Saturday.

World Rugby confirmed on Monday it is formally probing the matter.

Their statement read: “World Rugby takes all allegations of discriminatory behaviour extremely seriously.

“We can confirm that we are formally reviewing the allegation made by England’s Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language during the England vs South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semifinal on Saturday.

“World Rugby will not be making further comment until the conclusion of the process.”

How long it will take the investigation to reach a conclusion is not clear. It does, however, present the Bok selectors with an unwanted headache before they finalise their side for the final. They are due to name their team on Thursday.

As a senior member of the squad and stand-in captain when Siya Kolisi is not on the field, Mbonambi would be a shoo-in for the starting team.

His significance to the Bok cause went up a notch when Malcolm Marx was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury in their opening game against Scotland.

The Boks have Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden as hooking options but neither has served in that position for a convincing amount of time of late.

The final is at Stade de France on Saturday (9pm). 

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