World Rugby is continuing investigations into allegations that Bongi Mbonambi racially abused England’s Tom Curry just days out from the World Cup final.
South African fans, and teammates of the accused hooker, are upset that World Rugby has yet to clear their man and the clock is ticking.
The Roar understands that Mbonambi is in no danger of missing the game regardless of the findings as it is too close to kick off to have the matter fully resolved if he’s found to have abused the English flanker.
Springbok fans have rallied hard behind their man sharing video that appears to show Mbonambi screaming ‘wyd (or wit) kant’ in a an effort to organise the team during the semi-final win over England last weekend.
It has been suggested that Curry misheard these directions to watch the wide, or white side of play.
But in a twist to the saga, the UK Telegraph reported that the vision shared was not the relevant moment to the World Rugby investigation.
“New video footage that purports to show Tom Curry being allegedly racially abused by Bongi Mbonambi, the South Africa hooker, is not the moment being investigated by World Rugby, Telegraph Sport can reveal,” wrote Charlie Morgan.
“It is understood that the global governing body will look into a different exchange, from after the ball had gone out of play, despite a clip demonstrating scope for an innocent misunderstanding.”
A World Rugby spokesman fielded questions in the matter at a media conference with World Rugby chiefs Bill Beaumont and Alan Gilpin on Tuesday.
“We spoke about it yesterday. We can’t add any more to that statement and this is a World Rugby briefing rather than a Rugby World Cup related briefing but we will update you as soon as we have something to update,” the spokesman said.
“The aim is to do that review as quickly as possible. The first part of the review is about gathering evidence. So we’ll update this as soon as we can.”
Curry getting support after online abuse
Tom Curry has been receiving the support of his teammates after receiving online abuse for his complaint against Mbonambi.
“Tom is good. He has been thrown into it, he is a very impressive young man,” England assistant coach Richard Wigglesworth said on Tuesday.
“I know the players would have got round him. Steve [Borthwick] and the management team have been all over it. I’m sure he is getting every bit of support he needs.”
England play Argentina in a third place playoff on Saturday AEDT and Wigglesworth said they were trying to ensure the situation was not a significant distraction for them.
“We get stuck into our prep for Argentina. The process is the process. We have no knowledge of how long that is going to go on for on the outcome. Every week there is always some sort of thing you could be distracted by. This is international rugby, there is lots of noise around it. This distraction is different but it’s still noise that isn’t about Friday night.”
Boks perfect responses to bomb squad
The rugby world is obsessed with the Springboks ‘famed ‘bomb squad’ – those imposing forwards who came on against England and changed the course of the semi-final.
When quizzed about them on Tuesday, Kiwi assistant coach Jason Ryan joked: “It would be good to take some gas out of that bomb, wouldn’t it?”
Ryan said the All Blacks had “trust in their plan” that they can match up to the Bo
“The physicality is a big challenge,” Ryan acknowledged.
“They really pride themselves on their physicality and they are good at it. It’s a big part of what they do. They’ve also brought some good variation in some of their line-outs and their defence is right on. They are pressuring teams and they are good around the breakdown.
“All parts of their game they have been chipping away at to set themselves up for this final.”
He was asked if there had been too much emphasis placed on the ‘bomb squad.’
“No, they are just playing to their strengths. It’s a big part of what they do. It’s worked for them. We’ve got a good plan. The referees will make their decision on what they see. Those pictures have got to be clear, especially in big moments.”
The Boks big hero out of the semi-final win over England was replacement prop Ox Nche. He and fellow bench prop Vincent Koch destroyed the England scrum late in that game, setting up the match-winning penalty from Handre Pollard as well.
Ryan was asked if Nche’s scrummaging talents had caught his attention.
“Telling you mate, it does. He is some human, isn’t he. Wow. He is pretty strong at what he does but we’ve got a pretty good plan we believe in as well. We’ll be up for it,” Ryan said.
Kiwi forward Dalton Papali’i revealed the Kiws had their own answer to the ‘bomb squad’.
“I’ve got a little group happening in the team room at our hotel and we’re watching Band of Brothers and the 101st Airborne and their Easy Company. So, I made a little joke saying ‘you know they’ve got the ‘bomb squad’, so we could have the ‘Easy Company’. We want to go and finish the job and be in the trenches’,” said Papali’i.
“Talking about the ‘bomb squad, man they’ve proven themselves. They can come on and change a game like that. So, we sort of need to identify whoever is on the bench and that, need to really be screwed on up top and give it hell.”
Papali’i also reflected on the occasion – playing in a World Cup final.
“This is the moment on top of the mountain that everyone chases, every kid. You know growing up, you sort of have that thought, ‘Oh man, one day I would love to be there’ but to make it a reality, to go through all the hard yards getting to this game, ooof, it’s going to be a big one,” Papali’i said.
“I think it will probably hit me when it comes to the captain’s run or the morning of the game, where you think ‘this is it’. There’s gonna be a lot of excitement levels in that but what the leaders have done really well in this team is being able to put a cap on it and (say) ‘OK boys, we realise you are feeling this right now, enjoy it but when the whistle blows, we’ve got a job to do’. It makes it more clear in the head.
“We talk about having fire in the belly and ice in the head.”
Carter stays positive
All Blacks legend Dan Carter said he’s never wavered in his belief that the Kiwis can win a fourth World Cup – even when they were touched up in a record score by the Springboks before the tournament kicked off.
“I know in sport that you only need to be a couple of per cent off mentally and you can lose by thirty points, like they did on that occasion,” Carter told reporters on Tuesday.
“The reason why there was such a points difference in that Twickenham game I’m not sure because I wasn’t involved, but they were off. I know that with the work they were doing, the self-belief that the team had and the growth that they’ve had this year before the World Cup that that was a very uncharacteristic performance for them.
“There are such small margins and not being on mentally can make a big difference so I always knew that they could be there. I have been to four World Cups and I know that whether it is France or Ireland or South Africa are favourites it doesn’t guarantee you success.”
Carter won the trophy twice and has been in the All Blacks camp recently to help motivate the team.
“I have really enjoyed going back there and just seeing the growth and the mentality and the self-belief because it has been a challenging three or four years for the All Blacks in terms of not being able to perform consistently at a high level,” said Carter.
“So for them this year to build some consistency and to start performing well… The likes of the forwards coach Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt, who you know only too well over here, have added a lot of confidence and accuracy to the team. They have been huge additions.
“For me it has just been about spending time with some of the younger guys or even some of the older guys who are on their last World Cup. Just being an open book and being able to share some of my experiences and playing at four different World Cups.”