South Africa reignite 'white c***' row with Mbonambi's 'Wenkant' shirt

South Africa reignites ‘white c***’ England slur row as Cape Town mayor gifts Bongi Mbonambi ‘Wenkant’ – or ‘winning side’ jersey amidst raucous Rugby World Cup celebrations

  • South African government appeared to make a dig in their victory statement 
  • After making the allegations Curry suffered backlash against his whole family 
  • World Rugby concluded there was insufficient evidence to take any action 

Bongi Mbonambi fanned the flames of controversy once again in the wake of accusations from England’s Tom Curry that the hooker racially abused him during their nail-biting Rugby World Cup semi-final. 

The Springboks player gleefully received a national team jersey with the Afrikaans word ‘Wenkant’ – or ‘winning side’ – on the back, seemingly in reference to Curry’s claims that Mbonambi called him a ‘white c***’ during the two teams’ high-stakes tussle. 

The Sale Sharks openside approached referee Ben O’Keeffe in the 28th minute of the match, and was heard to say over the ref mic: ‘Sir, sir, if their hooker calls me a “white c***”, what do I do?’ 

O’Keeffe replied: ‘Nothing, please.’

Curry subsequently alleged Mbonambi had already used the same slur towards him when the Springboks faced England at Twickenham in the autumn of last year.

Bongi Mbonambi was given a Springboks jersey with a faintly controversial phrase on the back

South Africa have returned home to raucous celebrations after winning a fourth World Cup

The phrase could reference Tom Curry’s accusations against the hooker which claims he called him a ‘white c***’

Several Springboks fans suggested Curry had misinterpreted Mbonambi saying ‘wit kant’, which means ‘white side’ in Afrikaans, and World Rugby concluded that their was insufficient evidence to take any action against the player.

Mbonambi went on to feature – briefly – in the Rugby World Cup final and helped South Africa claim a record fouth win in the venerable competion.   

Amidst ecstatic scenes in the country, the players returned home to various open-top bus parades across the country, with Cape Town’s mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, handing Mbonambi the mocking garment. 

Hill-Lewis had announced to the crowd that he was keen to give the World Cup-winner a present, before telling the crowd: ‘Bongi’s on the wenkant’. 

South Africa have appeared to mock Curry a number of times after the player made his public statement, first in their release of a training footage that showed Mbonanmbi saying the phrase ‘watterkant’, which translates to ‘which side’, in drills. 

The country’s government referenced the allegations in a statement of congratulations to the team, writing ‘The Webb Ellis (Cup) is in South Africa’s kant’ in a blend of both English and Afrikaans. 

As per Telegraph Sport, ‘Wenkant’ jerseys were being sold in the run-up to Saturday’s World Cup final, as were shirts with ‘Wit kant’ or ‘Groen Kant’ (green side) on the back. 

In the centre of the roiling controversy, Curry was fiercly defended not only by his team-mates and head coach Steve Borthwick, but the RFU, who also lodged a complaint with the tournament authorities. 

Mbonambi was cleared to take part in the Rugby World Cup final but was injured in minutes

South Africa’s captain Siya Kolisi also reached out to Curry, after the Red Rose star revealed that in the wake of the backlash he and his family had been targeted with threats. 

‘We can take it as players, when it comes to us directly it’s fine, but when it comes to your family it’s totally different and that’s exactly what he said to me,’ Kolisi said last week. 

‘It’s the one part of the game we really don’t enjoy. I hope obviously it stops and he was able to prepare as much as he could for the game that he’s playing tomorrow. I have let him know we are supporting him, we are thinking of him.’  

Mbonambi too received the support of his union, with SA Rugby stating that they had ‘absolute faith’ in their player. 

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