Bongi Mbonambi thrust into racial slur scandal by English flanker
Following a fiercely contested RWC semi-final, an alleged racial slur by South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi towards England’s Tom Curry has stirred the waters of the rugby community.
This incident reportedly occurred during the first half of the match, which saw the Springboks clinching a one-point victory.
Tom Curry, the England flanker, has accused Mbonambi of directing a racial slur at him during the match, a claim that was communicated to the referee, Ben O’Keeffe.
The incident, caught on tape via O’Keeffe’s microphone during the 28th minute of the game, captured Curry inquiring about the appropriate response to such derogatory remarks.
The New Zealander referee, O’Keeffe, urged Curry to maintain his composure while promising to address the issue, although the specifics of his follow-up remain unclear as there’s no audio evidence of Mbonambi’s alleged comment.
Post-match, Curry was visibly unsettled and while he acknowledged that something was said, he refrained from delving into the details. When prompted about whether the issue was resolved post-match, Curry’s response hinted at an unresolved tension between him and Mbonambi.
What’s at stake if Mbonambi is found guilty?
England’s team and World Rugby have withheld comments pending the official citing window’s closure, which spans 36 hours post-match. However, Deon Davids, the Springboks forwards coach, professed ignorance regarding the alleged racial slur when quizzed on Sunday morning.
“I’m not aware of that, I’m not aware of any comment, if it was discussed, I’m not sure what the comment was or when it was said. I don’t know,” he asserted.
In a swift response, SA Rugby acknowledged the gravity of the allegations and pledged to scrutinise the available evidence rigorously.
Their statement assured that should any substantial evidence emerge, engagements with Bongi Mbonambi will be initiated to address the claim.
“We will engage with Bongi if anything is found to substantiate the claim,” the organisation noted.
If found guilty, Mbonambi could face disciplinary action under Law 9.12 in World Rugby regulations, which deems verbal abuse based on religion, colour, national or ethnic origin, and sexual orientation as a violation.
A potential ban could signify a significant blow for the South African squad, especially ahead of their final clash against New Zealand, given Mbonambi’s pivotal role as the sole specialist hooker in the team, following Malcolm Marx’s sidelining due to injury.
The Springboks are set for a fiery clash against the All Blacks on Saturday, 28 October 2023.