South African hooker Bongi Mbonambi has accused England of being “unprofessional” when they claimed he used a racial slur in the Rugby World Cup semi-final between the two teams.
England flanker Tom Curry claimed Mbonambi called him a “white guy” during the clash in Paris.
A World Rugby investigation found there was “insufficient evidence” to support Curry’s claim and that the accused hooker started the Springboks’ last win over New Zealand.
Some South Africans suspected that Mbonambi may have used the Afrikaans word for “side”. kantalmost homophonous with the English swear word.
And Mbonambi has now appeared to hint that this is the case while criticizing England’s involvement in a saga that overshadowed the week of the World Cup final.
“I find it very sad when you live in a first world country (England) and think the rest of the world speaks English.” Mbonambi told BBC Sport Africa.
“It was unprofessional on their part. You could have gone to an English dictionary website and searched for the word in Afrikaans.
“People understood it (in South Africa) but obviously their side was misunderstood. I’m glad it was all taken care of (by World Rugby) and that it’s all a thing of the past now. But I never called him racist names.”
England had also claimed that Mbonambi used a similar term during a meeting between the two teams at Twickenham in 2022.
Head coach Steve Borthwick criticized World Rugby following the decision not to hold a full disciplinary hearing, expressing frustration that Curry was “denied the chance to make his voice heard”.
Mbonambi’s finale lasted just a few minutes before a leg injury ended his involvement.