The Year in Review, 2023: The biggest ‘moemish’ moments in sport

World Rugby found insufficient evidence to pursue Tom Curry’s allegation that he was racially abused by Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi during their Rugby World Cup semi-final

FILE - World Rugby found insufficient evidence to pursue Tom Curry’s allegation that he was racially abused by Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi during their Rugby World Cup semi-final. Photo: Mike Egerton

Published Dec 29, 2023


Sport is fun to watch. We all love spending weekends glued to the TV, yelling out lungs out while popping a vein in the process.

Sometimes, though, sport can leave us scratching out heads in disbelief as we wonder “what just happened?” IOL Sport’s Lunga Biyela looks at five moments that left us all perplexed in 2023.

Tom Curry accuses Bongi Mbonambi of racism

The 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final between the Springboks and England was an epic tussle. We all watched with an elevated blood pressure as the men in green and gold huffed and puffed against a resolute England outfit.

England were at the top of their game for much of the encounter, but somehow, the Springboks emerged victorious to book their spot in the final, leading to sheer relief from South Africans everywhere.

Then, what followed was one of the ugliest episodes of the tournament. England’s Tom Curry dropped a bombshell that he had been called a “white c**t” by Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

It turns out the moegoe had misheard Mbonambi speaking Afrikaans during the game, and assumed he had been racially abused.

South Africans everywhere united on the issue, and World Rugby subsequently dropped the whole thing as they didn’t have the evidence...

Banyana-Safa pay dispute

With a World Cup on the horizon, what could possibly go wrong for Desiree Ellis and her Banyana Banyana team? Well, that question was answered when the team was locked in a pay dispute with the South African Football Association as the tournament approached.

None of it was the fault of the Banyana players, but along with Safa, they didn’t cover themselves in glory during the ugly episode.

The day was eventually saved when a knight in shining armour called Patrice Motsepe offered to help with the bonus payments, but the damage had already been done.

Banyana went on to make history by becoming the first senior South African national team to reach the knockout stage of a World Cup, but one can’t wonder how far they would have gone had they not been affected by the ugly episode.

SABC-SuperSport dispute over broadcasting rights for World Cups

When a World Cup approaches, South Africans are used to seeing the SABC and Multichoice trading insults over broadcasting rights.

Before both rugby and cricket World Cups, the SABC announced South Africans weren’t going to be able to watch the tournaments unless they had a DStv decoder. The two companies they went ahead and called each other names before reaching an agreement after intervention from the government.

It became quite tiring in the end.

Premier League VAR-gate

When VAR was introduced, its aim was to make it easier for referees to make accurate decisions. For the most part, it’s worked perfectly. But in 2023, the whole house of card seemed to fall down, and a number of bad VAR calls dominated the year.

One that springs to mind is the one that saw Liverpool’s goal against Tottenham Hotspur wrongly disallowed after some miscommunication between the referee and VAR officials.

Manchester United’s handling of Greenwoodgate

Manchester United’s handling of the Mason Greenwood saga was not great.

Greenwood was suspended by the club early last year, and after his charges were dropped by prosecutors in early 2023, it was left to the club to deal with the whole matter.

The way they dealt with it was embarrassing, and caused some damage to the club’s brand. The club will be hoping he does well on loan at Getafe and someone will come in and take him off their hands permanently.


IOL Sport