Bongi Mbonambi cleared to play in rugby final against All Blacks

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has included hooker Bongi Mbonambi in his starting team for the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand on Saturday evening.

Mbonambi retains his place after World Rugby cleared him of racism allegations due to insufficient evidence.

Mbonambi was accused by England flanker Tom Curry to have racially abused him during their semi-final clash last weekend.


According to a report on Netwerk24, the governing body could not find any clear audio evidence to make a case against Mbonambi.

Two changes to starting line-up

With that now out of the way, Nienaber made only two changes to his starting line-up ahead of the much-anticipated final.

The 2019 final half-back pairing of Handré Pollard and Faf de Klerk has been recalled to the run-on side, making them the most capped nine-and-ten combination with 25 appearances in Springbok history, moving past legends Joost van der Westhuizen and Henry Honiball (24 Tests).

Only two players in Nienaber’s forward pack did not start the 2019 final – lock Franco Mostert and prop Steven Kitshoff – with both playing off the bench four years ago.

Mostert is paired once again with Eben Etzebeth while Kitshoff partners Mbonambi and prop Frans Malherbe in the front row.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit (both flankers) and Duane Vermeulen (No 8) will again unite in an impactful loose trio.


In the backline, Pollard and De Klerk – who started on the replacements’ bench in the semi-final against England and the quarter-final against France – replace the duo of Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach.

They were both dropped out of the 23 to accommodate a split of seven forwards and one back on the bench.

The final will be a battle for a record four-time world cup crown at the Stade de France.

Springbok starting 15:

Damian Willemse; Kurt-Lee Arendse; Jesse Kriel; Damian de Allende; Cheslin Kolbe; Handré Pollard; Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen; Pieter-Steph du Toit; Siya Kolisi; Franco Mostert; Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe; Bongi Mbonambi; Steven Kitshoff

Replacements:

Deon Fourie; Ox Nche; Trevor Nyakane; Jean Kleyn; RG Snyman; Kwagga Smith; Jasper Wiese; Willie le Roux

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