World Rugby has not found any evidence for a racial complaint against Bongi Mbonambi, and the Springbok hooker is free to face the All Blacks on Saturday.
The governing body issued a statement on Thursday that it could not find any clear audio or visual evidence to make a case against Mbonambi, after the 2019 World Cup winner was alleged by England flanker Tom Curry to have racially abused him during last week’s World Cup semi-final.
“World Rugby has undertaken a review of allegations made by England’s Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language by South Africa’s Mbongeni Mbonambi during the England versus South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final on Saturday, along with a further allegation brought forward in recent days about a previous match in the Autumn Nations Series 2022,” the statement read.
“Any allegation of discrimination is taken extremely seriously by World Rugby, warranting a thorough investigation. 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.
“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 malicious.
“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 or society for discrimination, abuse or hate speech, and World Rugby urges fans to embrace the sport’s values of respect, integrity and solidarity.”
SA Rugby has noted World Rugby’s announcement concerning their investigation into the incident, and welcomes the decision that no further action will be taken.
“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,” read an official 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.
“The team’s focus remains, as it has throughout the week, on Saturday’s match against New Zealand. SA Rugby will make no further comment on the matter.”
The 32-year-old apparently addressed Curry with “you white (followed by an expletive)”during South Africa’s win at the State de France.
Curry approached referee Ben O’Keeffe about half an hour into the last-four match on Saturday to report the alleged comment and asked what he should do in response.
“Nothing, please,” replied O’Keeffe.
Mbonambi is the Boks” only specialist hooker in the squad due to Malcom Marx’s tournament-ending injury, although utility forward Deon Fourie has covered from the bench, and is set to face the All Blacks in the World Cup final in Paris this weekend.
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