VIDEO: Boks 'upbeat' despite Bongi saga dragging on
The mood in the South African camp is one of ‘excitement’, despite the dark cloud of the protracted Bongi Mbonambi investigation continuing to hang over the team ahead of the World Cup Final face-off against New Zealand.
The Springboks face the All Blacks in the Final at Stade de France in Paris on Saturday – 28 years after they last met in the Grand Finale of the global showpiece.
The build-up to the big day has been overshadowed by claims from the English camp that Mbonambi used “discriminatory language” against flank Tom Curry during the Boks’ 16-16 win in the semifinal last Saturday.
World Rugby has thrown a veil of silence over the investigation, with no indication when it will be completed.
The Springbok camp, at Wednesday’s media briefing, again reiterated they can’t discuss the matter until the investigation has reached an outcome.
Bok attack coach Felix Jones said they had been able to put the Mbonambi sideshow to one side and focus on the Final.
(WATCH as Springbok assistant coach Felix Jones talks about the ‘mood’ in the camp ahead of their World Cup Final face-off with the All Blacks…)
“The mood in the camp, as you would expect for a World Cup Final, one of huge excitement,” he told @rugby365com.
“There is a high level of focus.
“Everyone wants to get their detail down early in the week and concentrate on delivering a performance and enjoying it.”
* Meanwhile Curry’s Premiership club Sale Sharks have hit out at the ‘abuse’ directed at the player in the wake of his complaint against Mbonambi.
“Sale Sharks’ owners, players, coaches and staff are absolutely appalled by the nature and level of disgusting abuse directed at Tom Curry and his family in relation to an incident in the England v South Africa World Cup semifinal,” the English club said in a statement.
“Everyone at the club stands fully and proudly behind Tom and we look forward to welcoming him back to Carrington.”
𝗖𝗟𝗨𝗕 𝗦𝗧𝗔𝗧𝗘𝗠𝗘𝗡𝗧 🦈
Sale Sharks’ owners, players, coaches and staff are absolutely appalled by the nature and level of disgusting abuse directed at Tom Curry and his family in relation to an incident in the England v South Africa World Cup semi-final.
Everyone at the… pic.twitter.com/f2faQg5KHb
— Sale Sharks 🦈 (@SaleSharksRugby) October 25, 2023
It all stems from Curry complaining to referee Ben O’Keeffe that Mbonambi called him a “white c—” during the Boks’ semifinal win at Stade de France last Saturday.
The incident occurred just before the half-hour mark, with England leading 9-3.
Mbonambi took over the Bok captaincy after regular skipper Siya Kolisi left the field early in the second half – after the alleged incident.
Curry approached O’Keeffe, the New Zealand referee, and on the audio Curry can be heard saying: “Sir, Sir, if their hooker calls me a white c— what do I do?”
O’Keeffe replied: “Nothing, please.
“I will be on it.”
The matter has dragged on since the news first broke in the English media this past Sunday, with World Rugby announcing that they are looking into the matter.
Dominic Rumbles, Chief Communications Officer for World Rugby, said they are standing by the statement issued on Monday – in which they confirmed they are ‘formally’ reviewing the allegation made by Tom Curry in relation to the use of “discriminatory language” during the England versus South Africa semifinal last Saturday.
World Rugby again said they would not be making further comment until the conclusion of the review.
Rumbles steadfastly refused to give a timeline for the completion of the process.
“We will update you as soon as we have something to update,” he said at a World Rugby media briefing on Tuesday.
“The aim is to do that review as quickly as possible,” he added.
He made it clear the ‘first part of the review’ is about gathering evidence, which seems to suggest they have not completed that part yet.
With Mbonambi expected to be named in the Springbok team to face the All Blacks in the Final in Paris on Saturday, the ‘review’ needs to be completed in a matter of days.
However, it appears World Rugby might run out of time and Mbonambi will be named at hooker when the Springboks announce their team for the Final on Thursday morning.
Unless there is a dramatic turn of events, he will play on Saturday.
* Picture credit: @Springboks