‘Racial slur’ sideshow: sour grapes or genuine concerns?
A claim of racial slurs shakes up the Rugby World Cup, raising questions about the truth of the matter.
Referee Ben O’Keeffe with Bongi Mbonambi. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images
Sour grapes, they say, make the best whine. And certainly, some of South Africa’s opponents in this Rugby World Cup are producing fine vintages.
First it was French captain Antoine Dupont, blaming his side’s 29-28 loss to the Springboks on Kiwi referee Ben O’Keeffe.
Then, it was England flank Tom Curry, who approached O’ Keeffe (who also officiated in the Boks’ 16-15 victory over England) to complain that Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi had used a racial slur against him.
British tabloids had a field day, instantly screaming “racism’, although some did backtrack later, when it emerged that Mbonambi may have been speaking Afrikaans (which the Boks often do) and that what he said may have been “lost in translation”.
While we must wait to find out what the world body decides, as well as for the official SA rugby probe, it is puzzling that the man who acted as Bok captain in the match would do such a racist thing.
And so publicly. He’s never been accused of it before.
But, more importantly, this is a Bok side where race has well and truly been consigned to the dustbin of history.
With the All Blacks looming, the Boks must not let this silly sideshow distract them.