Springboks clam up on abuse allegations after England semifinal

South Africa tried to dampen down the controversy around alleged discriminatory behavior and verbal abuse by hooker Bongi Mbonambi, cutting off questions about World Rugby’s investigation at a news conference on Monday.


World Rugby is formally investigating the claim that Mbonambi racially disparaged England’s Tom Curry during Saturday’s semifinal, which South Africa won 16–15 to advance to a matchup with New Zealand.

In response to queries at the news conference on Monday, South Africa sent scrum coach Dan Human and two locks, Jean Kleyn and Marvin Orie, who won’t likely play in the championship game on Saturday at the Stade de France. None would comment on the accusations against Mbonambi.

After that, Human cut off questioning regarding Mbonambi’s character but not before referring to the 32-year-old as a crucial member of the Springboks.

“Bongani has been a member of our team for the past six years and is a crucial component of our puzzle. He is incredibly important to us. He is unquestionably a leader. And he’s a fantastic guy—amazing for his family, down to earth, and incredibly humble. Like all the other players, he worked really hard.

Human continued, “I have not participated in any discussions about this.” “But he’s actually a calm guy; no, no, it’s not a big deal,” someone said. We have a World Cup final coming up, so I won’t get into it.

At that point, SA rugby officials halted all further inquiries regarding Mbonambi.

In a statement made earlier on Monday, World Rugby stated that it takes all claims of discriminatory behavior very seriously. We can confirm that we are formally looking into the allegations made by England’s Tom Curry regarding the use of slurs during the semifinal Rugby World Cup match between England and South Africa on Saturday. Up until the process is over, World Rugby won’t say further.

On Sunday, South African Rugby announced that it had started a self-conducted internal inquiry and was “reviewing the available evidence.”

Audio and video footage posted on social media show Curry complaining to referee Ben O’Keeffe, although no action was taken and the alleged slur is not heard.

Curry refused to say what had reportedly been said when questioned by media about the event.

On Sunday, England coach Steve Borthwick likewise declined to respond to the accusation.

Mbonambi might be suspended if proven guilty, which would be a major setback for the Springboks before the championship game.

Since they replaced the injured Malcolm Marx with flyhalf Handre Pollard, who scored the game-winning penalty against England, he is the only specialist hooker on the team.

Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden, the team’s regular loose-forwards, are the alternative choices for hookers, but asking them to scrum for 80 minutes against a capable New Zealand pack would be a challenge.

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