Bongi Mbonambi is free to play for South Africa in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand despite a World Rugby investigation hanging over him.
The Springboks hooker is expected to feature after Tom Curry accused him of a racial slur during South Africa’s 16-15 win over England in the semi-finals.
Curry alleged that Mbonambi called him a ‘white c***’ but no decision from World Rugby is expected until after rugby’s showpiece event.
The England flanker has received a storm of online abuse since making the allegation, including death threats, and Sale Sharks have condemned the ‘disgusting’ comments.
They wrote on X, formerly Twitter: ‘Sale Sharks’ owners, players, coaches and staff are absolutely appalled by the nature and level of disgusting abuse directed at Tom Curry and his family in relation to an incident in the England v South Africa World Cup semi-final.
‘Everyone at the club stands fully and proudly behind Tom and we look forward to welcoming him back to Carrington.’
Some South African fans claimed that Mbonambi could have been speaking Afrikaans.
The Springboks often speak Afrikaans to hide their plans from opponents.
Their fans suggest the hooker may have been saying ‘wit kant’ – which translates to ‘white side’ – indicating the colour England were playing in on the day.
In England’s dramatic 15-16 loss to South Africa, Curry approached referee Ben O’Keeffe in the 28th minute of the match, and is 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.’
After the final whistle, there was a noticeable altercation between Curry and Mbonambi, who appeared to refuse to shake the England forward’s hand and marched off down the tunnel.
It was confirmed on Monday that the English Rugby Football Union had lodged an official complaint about the incident, prompting World Rugby to open an investigation.
A statement released by World Rugby – the global governing body – said: ‘World Rugby takes allegations of discriminatory behaviour extremely seriously.
‘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 any further comment until the conclusion of the process.’