- “Insufficient evidence” sees Mbonambi cleared to play
- Kolisi reached out to Curry
- Curry starts for England against Pumas
Bongi Mbonambi, the South African hooker, will start in the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand following a ruling that found “insufficient evidence” for his alleged use of a racial slur towards England’s Tom Curry.
RFU affirm full support for Curry
During South Africa’s narrow 16-15 victory over England in the semi-final, Curry claimed he was subjected to abuse. World Rugby has stated that the case is considered closed unless new evidence emerges.
England expressed deep disappointment over the decision not to charge Mbonambi. The Rugby Football Union (RFU) disclosed that Curry had reported a similar incident during England’s match against South Africa the previous November.
England’s captain, Owen Farrell, condemned the abuse Curry faced for reporting the incident, emphasising that such behaviour is “unacceptable.”
The RFU affirmed its full support for Curry, denouncing the online abuse directed at him and his family. They emphasised that such conduct contradicts the fundamental values of rugby.
World Rugby acknowledged Curry’s allegations were made in good faith and clarified there was no indication of deliberate falsehood or malice.
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi reached out to Curry and expressed hope that the abuse would cease, emphasising the impact on players’ families.
In terms of the final, South Africa’s head coach, Jacques Nienaber, has made two changes to the team that secured victory in the semi-final. Half-backs Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard are set to replace Cobus Reinach and Manie Libbok. Pollard, who replaced Libbok in the semi-final, played a pivotal role with a late match-winning penalty.
South Africa and New Zealand are both vying to become the first nation to secure a fourth World Cup title.
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.
Curry set to start
Meanwhile Curry starts England’s World Cup third-place play-off against Argentina on Friday. Marcus Smith returns at full-back and Henry Arundell comes in on the wing as two of eight changes.Scrum-half Ben Youngs makes his first start of the tournament in what will be his 127th and final England Test match.
Argentina have made three changes to their starting XV following the 44-6 semi-final thrashing by New Zealand.
England: Smith; Steward, Marchant, Tuilagi, Arundell; Farrell (capt), Youngs; Genge, Dan, Stuart, Itoje, Chessum, Curry, Underhill, Earl.
Replacements: George, Rodd, Cole, Ribbans, Ludlam, Care, Ford, Lawrence.
Argentina: Mallia; Boffelli, Cinti, De la Fuente, M Carreras; S Carreras, Cubelli; Gallo, Montoya (capt), Kodela, Petti, Rubiolo, Gonzalez, Kremer, Isa.
Replacements: Creevy, Sclavi, Bello, Alemanno, Bruni, Velez, Sanchez, Moroni.
As well as being the squad’s only specialist hooker Mbonambi is a hugely influential character and a real leader. His availability for the final will come as a huge boost to South Africa.
New Zealand are slight favourites with most bookmakers, however, a close contest is predicted. At the time of writing, bet365 have Zealand as 10/13 favourites with South Africa 13/10 and a draw after 80 minutes 20/1.
England are strong favourites to beat Argentina in the bronze medal match.