Mbonambi faces a World Rugby investigation after England flanker Tom Curry alleged during his side’s Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat on Saturday that the Bok hooker called him a ‘white c***’.
The South African refused to shake Curry’s hand after the game and the allegation – which was picked up by Ben O’Keeffe’s ref mic – was widely reported in the press.
As the only specialist hooker left in the Springboks camp, a potential ban for Mbonambi ahead of the World Cup final would be a significant blow to the defending world champions’ bid to defend the title.
New Zealand defence coach McLeod was asked what sort of impact it would have on the Springboks and he didn’t pull his punches.
“I learned about it this morning. It is something World Rugby will deal with,” said McLeod. ‘If anything came of it, it would be a massive dent for them. He is a leader of their team. When Siya [Kolisi, South Africa captain] goes off, he becomes the captain so I imagine it would impact them.”
This morning World Rugby revealed that they are probing the allegations. “World Rugby takes all allegations of discriminatory behaviour extremely seriously,” a statement from the governing body read. “We can confirm that we are formally reviewing the allegation made by England’s Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language during the England versus South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final on Saturday. World Rugby will not be making further comment until the conclusion of the process.”
The Springboks are also carrying out their own internal investigation.