While South Africans are holding their collective breath during World Rugby’s investigation into Bongi Mbonambi, the Springboks’ hooker is training with his teammates and looks in good spirits ahead of Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against the All Blacks in France.
World Rugby announced this week Bongi Mbonambi is being investigated for an alleged racial incident after England loose forward Tom Curry complained to New Zealand referee Ben O'Keeffe that the hooker called him a “white c***” during their semi-final last Saturday.
But in a bizarre twist in the Mbonambi-Curry saga, it was reported that the alleged incident apparently stems from a Test match in November 2022 between the Springboks and England at Twickenham in November 2022.
World Rugby's confirmed at a press briefing on Tuesday that the investigation into Bongi Mbomambi is still ongoing and that they don’t have a set time when it must be concluded.
But, despite this massive distraction ahead of the biggest game in the Springboks’ history, Mbonambi and the players seem to be relaxed and in a good frame of mind.
Mbonambi, who is the Springboks’ premier hooker following the injury to Malcolm Marx, was filmed by Netwerk24’s Hendrik Cronje practising his lineouts, with back-up hooker Deon Fourie and captain Siya Kolisi also in attendance.
Springboks management member JJ Fredericks is seen with the lineout prop during the practice session and asks Mbonambi “watter kant” (which side), possibly in reference to “wyd kant” (wide side) or “wit kant” (white side) which some SA fans such as 5FM breakfast show host Dan Corder picked up in the semi-final during their own investigation into the matter.
Mbonambi then replies with “die middel kant” (the middle side)!
The Springboks are set to announce their team for the final against the All Blacks on Thursday morning, and it looks more and more likely that the hooker will start for the Springboks in the No 2 jersey against the All Blacks.
But only time will tell whether World Rugby will throw a late spanner in the works, which will almost certainly be a massive blow and could derail the Springboks’ chances of winning a fourth Rugby World Cup.