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Springboks: The Bongi Mbonambi behind-the-scenes reaction to allegation

By Ian Cameron
Bongi Mbonambi of South Africa looks on during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and South Africa at Stade de France on October 21, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi is said to have performed perfectly in training despite an ongoing investigation regarding an alleged racial slur made during the Rugby World Cup semi-final.

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Mbonambi was accused during the game of using racialised language against England flanker Tom Curry, who brought his concerns to referee Ben O’Keeffe.

The comments were picked up by O’Keeffe’s ref mic and now World Rugby are probing what exactly went on. The drama has been the talk of Rugby World Cup final week and the Boks faced questions on the issue at a press conference today.

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WATCH as Springbok scrum coach Daan Human fronts up to a group of English media hacks, while the Bongi Mbonambi saga escalates

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WATCH as Springbok scrum coach Daan Human fronts up to a group of English media hacks, while the Bongi Mbonambi saga escalates

“It’s being dealt with by World Rugby and South Africa Rugby at the moment. From our side I really can’t comment on something like that,” said Springboks assistant coach Daan Human.

Bongi Mbonambi
Bongi Mbonambi in training – PA

Human did reveal that the hooker is dealing pretty well with things despite being at the centre of the storm.

“He had a perfect training this afternoon, well not perfect but we strive to have a perfect training. I can’t really comment on that.

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“Bongi has been part of this group for the last six years. He is a very important piece of our puzzle, he is definitely very important to us like all the other players.”

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“He is definitely one of our leaders in the group as well, a great guy. A great family man and I know his kids always look after my kids when they come to the hotel. He is a very humble guy, down to earth and a very hard worker like all the other players, which they should be if they want to play for the Springboks.”

Human downplayed the idea that the Sharks forward was shocked by the accusation that have been levelled against him.

“I haven’t discussed that [with him]. But to be straightforward and honest with you, he is a calm guy. He is well spoken and I don’t want to actually go into it because we have a World Cup final in six days’ time. Like I said I am more concentrated on the forwards.”

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Human also insists that the team are well stocked at No.2, despite Mbonambi being the only specialist hooker left in the squad following the withdrawal of Malcolm Marx due to injury back in September.

“I can tell you one thing, we have three hookers [including Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden] in the group. Three guys who are capable of playing hooker so we are very comfortable having three hookers. If you want to go into a final, you must have two hookers.”

Springboks lock Jean Kleyn described his teammate as a ‘great guy’, although he refused to comment directly on the accusations made against him.

“Bongi is a great guy, I have known him since we played together at the Stormers. He is a good individual. I’m not going to comment on it, I’m not going to justify it.”

“Passionate guy, a family man. He has captained the Springboks a few times now. He is an upstanding guy, I don’t think there’s a fella in the squad who doesn’t like him.”

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Red and White Dynamight 3 hours ago
Duhan van der Merwe hat-trick sinks sloppy England to win Calcutta Cup

Up the Jocks ! a great team effort and 4 victories v on the bounce v their greatest rivals for those north of Hadrians. But, of course, before the celebrations survive the first pint of McEwans, it seems for some this Calcutta Cup match was merely 1 man v 15. What exactly is it about Sth Africans that make them such insufferable bores ? you rarely see Kiwis claiming Ireland victories (incl 3 x NZers) or Aussies for that matter (X1). You never see Samoans claiming France/England victories (Tuilagis). Or Fijians claim All Black victories. Scotland have had some great Kiwi-born players (S.Lineen/B.Laney/J.Leslie) - no surprise given their heritage - but they supported them as their ‘2nd team’. If anything they applaud their countrymen for taking opportunities and bettering themselves as professionals and, hopefully, competing on the World stage too. It takes some stratospheric level of stupid to ignore the opaque boundaries and qualifications that now allow Japan to be competitive, Portugal to win a RWC game, Argentinians to play for Italy, New Zealanders to dominate Tongan and Samoan teams - and not celebrate that World Rugby is more competitive and better for it. Everywhere on social media, even when the post has zero to do with Sth Africans (schoolboy rugby being the most obvious barrel-scraping eg - these are KIDS), they pile in and try to claim the “we are better/stronger/faster” with such voluminous levels of obnoxious bile, that it poisons the mere celebration of the sport itself. These are not ‘rugby fans’ that can marvel at the Game they Play in Heaven, but rather some misplaced insecure-fuelled poison that they need to extract from deep inside their psyche. Its hard to understand the exact reason for the massive chip on their shoulders and their desperation for the victimhood/noone-loves-us-we-dont-care, but it seems accelerated with their LOTTO Cup 1-pt wins, like gasoline on the fire. Obsessed with ‘cheating’ refs and ‘cheating’ opposition (Rassies video bloopers during Lions tour; McCaw’s whole career) and celebrating their own thuggery (#JUSTICE4 the dirtiest player in pro-rugby history), when luck suddenly goes their way (1995 Final vs an acutely comprimised ABs; Kilosi<->Cane cards in 2023 Final) or their players escape adequate penalty (Etzebeth 1-handed non-intercepts; Kolbe illegal chargedown; Etzebeth cynically retreating in the AB backline) so obviously that its clearly been coached, then suddenly its AOK as long its SA that benefit directly from it. The schizophrenic nature of Sth Africans presents them as good company in person - and lets face it, theyre EVERYWHERE now and cant get out of their own country fast enough - but as anonymous keyboard ninjas their true nature shines out as one beset with a dark undercurrent of toxic self-absorption. It appears that the bravado appears only under the protection of anonymity, a cowardice of insufferable reverse-flagellation to make themselves feel proud when the mirror stares back at them. Give yourselves a long slow clap. Well done to the entire Scotland team including all those born south of Hadrians Wall. Playing a fantastic fast pace of fluid ball-in-hands rugby that seems almost foreign to other teams. Och aye the noo.

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