Rugby World Cup: With his ‘Wenkant’ shirt, Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi rekindles the racism controversy
England flanker Tom Curry claimed that he was subjected to racial abuse by Bongi Mbonambi during the team’s trophy parade in Cape Town, but South Africa hasn’t stopped making fun of him for it.
Geordin Hill-Lewis, the mayor of Cape Town, gave Springboks hooker Mbonambi a shirt that said “Wenkant,” which translates from Afrikaans as “winning side.”
Following an open-top bus parade, the Rugby World Cup winning team gathered outside City Hall. Hill-Lewis introduced himself and said he wanted to give Mbonambi a gift before calling him forward and announcing to the crowd, “Bongi’s on the wenkant!”
Mbonambi smiled and accepted the shirt before bowing to the cheering crowd..
The week before the World Cup final, World Rugby declared that there was “insufficient evidence” to continue the investigation into Mbonambi. Curry’s claim that Mbonambi had said “wit kant” (which translates to “white side” in Afrikaans) was one theory put forth by Mbonambi’s supporters from South Africa.
“Wenkant” shirts, which retail for R200 (NZ$18), were being sold in South Africa leading up to the World Cup final last week. There is also an alternative design that has “Wit Kant” on the white side and “Groen Kant” on the green side on the back.
Curry was the target of abuse by the same player during England’s November 2022 match against South Africa, according to the Rugby Football Union, which fiercely defended him at the time. They also expressed disappointment with the governing body’s decision to close the investigation and denounced the “disgusting abuse” Curry and his family had received on social media.
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The nation’s current status
According to SA Rugby, which was at the time endorsing Mbonambi, the hooker was a “experienced, respected, and decorated test player” who had “denied the allegations from the outset.” SA Rugby is totally confident in Bongi’s moral character and honesty.
The captain of South Africa, Siya Kolisi, disclosed in the run-up to the championship match that he had gotten in touch with Curry following the mistreatment the Sale flanker had experienced on social media.