Rugby

Springboks roll the dice with 7/1 bench split for World Cup final as Bongi Mbonambi is cleared to play

In response to claims that South Africa’s hooker Bongi Mbonambi used a racist term on England’s Tom Curry on Saturday night, World Rugby has cleared Mbonambi to play in the World Cup final, citing insufficient evidence to pursue a charge.

 

The ruling allows Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber to choose the Sharks’ outstanding player for this Saturday’s match, and the Springbok management has done exactly that.

After entering the game after thirty-one minutes in the semifinal, Handré Pollard starts at out-half and kicks the game’s winner. Manie Libbok is benched entirely as the world champions go with a seven-to-one forward and back lineup. To replace Cobus Reinach, Faf de Klerk enters.

This implies that four years after competing in a different color of green during the World Cup in Japan, former Ireland international Jean Kleyn will participate in the World Cup final.

The only backline substitute is Willie le Roux, with winger Cheslin Kolbe filling in at scrum-half.

Starting at full-back, Damian Willemse is accompanied by Kurt-Lee Arendse and Kolbe on the wings and Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende in midfield.

Frans Malherbe, Mbonambi, and Steven Kitshoff occupy the front row, while Vincent Koch sits on the bench due to injury.

In the second row are Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, while in the rear row are Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, and Duane Vermeulen.

The bench was a major talking point; Kwagga Smith and Jasper Wiese completed the bomb squad, while Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, and Trevor Nyakane covered the front row. RG Snyman and Kleyn were the lock reinforcements.

Many claim that there is less risk with 5/3, although you still have to employ a loose forward if you lose two locks. Coaches and all teams reduce risk by getting people ready for potential outcomes, according to Nienaber.

In Sevens, Cheslin was a sweeper, which is similar to a scrum-half. He has been trained there for a few weeks.

“It doesn’t matter if it was 6/2 or 5/3; you pick the team you think can win.”

Prior to South Africa’s squad announcement, World Rugby released a statement regarding Mbonambi.

“An additional allegation made in recent days regarding a previous match in the Autumn Nations Series 2022, along with the allegations made by England’s Tom Curry regarding the use of discriminatory language by South Africa’s Mbongeni Mbonambi during the England versus South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final on Saturday, have been reviewed by World Rugby,” the statement stated.

“World Rugby takes any accusations of prejudice very seriously and needs to conduct a full investigation. The governing board has decided that there is not enough evidence at this time to move forward with charges after taking into account all of the relevant information, including audio, video, and evidence from both teams throughout the match. Therefore, unless new information becomes available, the case is considered closed.

It is significant to highlight that there is no indication that Tom Curry’s accusations were malicious or purposefully untrue, and that World Rugby acknowledges that Curry made them in good faith.

The vitriol that both players have received on social media this week worries World Rugby as well. Rugby and society do not tolerate hate speech, abuse, or discrimination, and World Rugby encourages its followers to uphold the integrity, respect, and unity that are inherent to the game.

The investigation’s finding, which overshadowed the lead-up to Friday’s bronze final between England and Argentina and the final between New Zealand and South Africa 24 hours later, has been denounced by the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

An RFU statement said, “The RFU fully supports Tom Curry in raising the racially abusive behaviour he experienced.”

“We at the RFU are quite unhappy in World Rugby’s decision. By choosing not to provide the evidence to an impartial disciplinary panel, the disciplinary process has been deprived of the chance to hear Tom Curry’s side of the story and to objectively evaluate it with the other available information.

“The RFU and the England team, in their unwavering support for Tom, denounce the abhorrent mistreatment he and his family have endured on social media due to his bravery in bringing into the public eye inappropriate conduct that is neither appropriate for society nor appropriate for rugby.”

During the team’s morning press conference, South Africa captain Kolisi mentioned that he had discussed the online harassment Curry had been subjected to with the player.

“I’ve talked to him and experienced it myself. When it directly affects you, we can accept it as a game, but it gets harder when it involves your family.

“We don’t mind receiving criticism for our playing; we’ve had that experience with Cobus as well. We help one another out, and I hope it ends because I care about his family. I’ve informed him that he has our backing and attention.”

South Africa’s World Cup final squad:

D Vermeulen, C Kolbe, H Pollard, F de Klerk, S Kitshoff, B Mbonambi, F Malherbe, E Etzebeth, F Mostert, S Kolisi (C), PS du Toit, D Willemse, KL Arendse, J Kriel, D De Allende, C Kolbe, H Pollard, F de Klerk, etc.

D Fourie, O Nche, T Nyakane, J Kleyn, RG Snyman, K Smith, J Wiese, and W le Roux are the replacements.

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