VIDEO: It is a waiting game as Bongi saga escalates
South Africa is playing a ‘waiting game’ as World Rugby search for evidence of an alleged ‘racial slur’ used by hooker Bongi Mbonambi against England flank Tom Curry.
World Rugby, the custodians of the World Cup, confirmed that 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 on Saturday.
However, World Rugby – who said they will not be making further comment until the conclusion of the review – did not indicate the timeline for the process.
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.
Some reports suggested an ‘outcome’ could be arrived at by Tuesday, but there was no indication from World Rugby or the South African Rugby Union if this is accurate.
It all stems from Curry complaining to referee Ben O’Keeffe that Mbonambi called him a “white c—” during the Boks’ 16-15 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.”
* (Article continues below the audio recording of Curry’s allegation …)
The South African Rugby Union later responded to the allegation by confirming they are looking into it.
The Springboks’ Monday media briefing, staged to deal with the build-up to the World Cup Final between South Africa and New Zealand, was taken over by a horde of English media hacks, determined to trap an unsuspecting coach – in this case, scrum coach Daan Human – in a headline-grabbing trap.
Human straight-batted the questions, telling the first hack that it is being dealt with by World Rugby and SARU.
“I really can’t comment on that,” he said, adding: “I attempt to focus on the scrums.”
Human said Mbonambi trained fine and looked to be in fine fettle, dealing very well with the storm that broke out around him.
He said Mbonambi has been part of the Bok set-up for six years and described him as a “very, very important piece of the Bok puzzle’.
“He is one of the leaders in our group and a great guy, a great family man,” the scrum coach said.
“Very humble guy, down to earth and hard worker.”
He added that they have sufficient back-up in Deon Fourie and Marco van der Staden, should Mbonambi be ruled out for any reason.
The incident allegedly occurred just before the half-hour mark, with England leading 9-3.
After the final whistle, Mbonambi and Curry also did not shake hands.
They have a bit of a history, with a video resurfacing of the two in a scuffle on the year-end tour match at Twickenham last November.
Following the game the Sale Sharks openside flank was asked in a media scrum about the incident between him and Mbonambi.
He admitted ‘something’ was said, but declined to elaborate.
“It does not need to be talked about,” he told a mixed-zone media briefing.