Rugby World Cup final: Bongi Mbonambi named in South Africa team to face New Zealand

Bongi Mbonambi played the full 80 minutes against England as South Africa’s only specialist hooker left in their squad
Bongi Mbonambi played the full 80 minutes against England as the only specialist hooker left in South Africa’s squad
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Dates: Saturday, 28 October Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi will start against New Zealand in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final after a ruling there was “insufficient evidence” he used a racial slur towards Tom Curry.

The England flanker said he was abused during last Saturday’s semi-final, which South Africa won 16-15.

Governing body World Rugby said Curry had made the allegation in good faith.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) says it is “deeply disappointed” by the decision not to charge Mbonambi.

World Rugby’s investigation had also taken into account an allegation that Curry had been abused by Mbonambi during England’s match against South Africa last November.

“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,” World Rugby said. “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.”

The RFU says World Rugby’s decision not to put the evidence before an independent disciplinary panel “denied the opportunity” to hear Curry’s account.

The flanker has suffered online abuse for reporting the incident which England captain Owen Farrell described as “unacceptable”.

An RFU statement read: “In their continued full support of Tom, the RFU together with the England squad, condemn the disgusting abuse he and his family has received on social media as a result of his having had the courage to put unacceptable behaviour that has no place in society or on the rugby field, in the public eye.

“Abuse of any kind is not acceptable and goes against the core values of rugby. It is important that it is safe and acceptable for everyone involved in rugby union to raise concerns, and the RFU continue to encourage everyone to report any unacceptable behaviour in the game.”

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi says he has reached out to Curry and hopes the abuse will stop.

“I have spoken to him,” Kolisi said. “We can take it as players when it comes to you directly, but when it’s your family, it’s difficult.”

Nienaber brings back De Klerk and Pollard

Head coach Jacques Nienaber has named the most experienced South Africa team ever to face the All Blacks in Paris on Saturday.

Nienaber makes two changes to the XV that started the semi-final win over England, with half-backs Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard replacing Cobus Reinach and Manie Libbok.

Fly-half Pollard came on as a surprise replacement for Libbok after just 31 minutes of the semi-final, and kicked a late match-winning penalty.

Both Reinach and Libbok drop out of the matchday squad completely, with Nienaber opting for a 7-1 split of forwards to backs on the bench. Willie le Roux is the only back replacement.

It is the second time South Africa have attempted the 7-1 split, having done so for their 13-8 defeat by Ireland in the pool stage.

On to the bench comes lock Jean Kleyn, who represented Ireland at the 2019 World Cup before switching allegiances under World Rugby’s birthright amendment rule,external-link and number eight Jasper Wiese.

Both players are yet to feature in the knockout stages, as South Africa stuck with the same 23 players against France and England.

The Springboks are bidding to beat New Zealand and to become the first side to win four World Cups.


South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Pollard, De Klerk; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Vermeulen.

Replacements: Fourie, Nche, Nyakane, Kleyn, Snyman, Smith, Wiese, Le Roux.

Source: BBC News

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