England’s Tom Curry mocked in South Africa as Bongi Mbonambi receives ‘gift’

Bongi Mbonambi has reportedly been gifted a commemorative South Africa jersey by the mayor of Cape Town, adorned with a message which rugby fans seem to think makes light of the racism row that involved Tom Curry. The star alerted the referee to what he believed was a racial slur directed his way from Mbonambi during the semi-finals, although the Springboks man was subsequently cleared.

Mbonambi was a key man for the Springboks as they went all the way in France, notching back-to-back World Cup triumphs and their fourth in total. They cut it fine from the quarter-finals onwards, registering single-point victories over France, England and New Zealand to take the trophy.

During the match with England, Curry approached referee Ben O’Keeffe and said: “Sir, if their hooker calls me a white c***, what do I do?” An investigation followed, but Mbonambi was ultimately cleared by World Rugby due to ‘insufficient evidence’ substantiating Curry’s claims.

Many South Africa supporters were adamant that, instead of the slur Curry thought he heard, Mbonambi had actually said ‘wit kant’, which means ‘white side’ in Afrikaans.

Rugby chiefs evidently felt that the explanation was a plausible one, given that England contested their semi-finals wearing white shirts. Mbonambi went on to play in the final and help the Springboks to a marginal win over the All Blacks.

With the dust finally settling on the saga, Mbonambi has been pictured with a South Africa jersey sporting the word ‘WENKANT’ which, according to SA Rugby magazine, was presented to him as a gift from Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

World Rugby also spoke out on the issue, writing: “[We are] concerned by the social media abuse that both players have been subjected to this week.

“There is no place in rugby or society for discrimination, abuse or hate speech, and World Rugby urges fans to embrace the sport’s values of respect, integrity and solidarity.”

England rugby bosses were left frustrated that Curry’s allegations were not seen by an independent body. The RFU said in statement they were “deeply disappointed” at World Rugby’s decision. It added: “The decision not to put the evidence before an Independent Disciplinary Panel has denied the disciplinary process the opportunity to hear Tom Curry’s voice and to independently assess his account of these serious events, together with the other available evidence.”

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