Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

World Rugby finds no evidence of racial slur, Mbonambi free to play in final

"The matter is deemed closed unless additional evidence comes to light."

Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi has been given the all-clear to face the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final after facing an allegation of making a racial slur towards England’s Tom Curry during last weekend’s semi-final in Paris.

Curry asked referee Ben O’Keeffe at one stage during the match what he should do after claiming Bok hooker Mbonambi had called him a “white c***”.

On Thursday morning, World Rugby, who had earlier in the week said they would formally review the matter, released a statement saying they could find no evidence of the alleged slur.

World Rugby said they had watched footage and listened to audio of last week’s match, as well as the match between the teams at Twickenham in 2022 — brought to their attention in recent days as where the slur might have been uttered — to see if they could find any discriminatory language used by Mbonambi.

‘Matter is closed’

“Having considered all the available evidence, including match footage, audio and evidence from both teams, the governing body has determined that there is insufficient evidence at this time to proceed with charges.

“Therefore the matter is deemed closed unless additional evidence comes to light.”

World Rugby added: “It is important to note that World Rugby accepts that Tom Curry made the allegations in good faith and that there is no suggestion that the allegation was deliberately false or mailicious.

“World Rugby is also concerned by the social media abuse that both players have been subjected to this week. There is no place in rugby for discrimination, abuse or hate speech, and World Rugby urges fans to embrace the sport’s values of respect, integrity and solidarity.”

SA Rugby respond

SA Rugby welcomed the decision that no further action will be taken against Mbonambi.

“Any form of racism is abhorrent to SA Rugby and the Springbok team whose purpose is to do everything in its power to assist in uniting our diverse and multicultural nation,” said SA Rugby in a statement.

“Bongi Mbonambi is an experienced, respected and decorated Test player and, needless to say, denied the allegations from the outset. SA Rugby has absolute faith in the honesty and integrity of Bongi.”

Mbonambi was on Thursday named in the Springbok starting team for Saturday’s final against the All Blacks.

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