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Government declares ‘the Webb Ellis is in South Africa’s kant’

The South African government has declared that “the Webb Ellis is in South Africa’s kant” after the Springboks’ World Cup final victory against New Zealand on Saturday.

The Afrikaans word “kant” translates as “side” and it is an interesting choice of phrase by the South Africa government in congratulating the Springboks, given how widely it has been used in the past week.

It has been speculated that after Tom Curry alleged he was called a “white cunt” by South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi during the World Cup semi-final, the Springboks hooker might actually have said “wit kant” or “white side”. That was not suggested by the Springboks camp in a belated statement last week, but a video of South Africa coaches and players surfaced last week with the phrase “watter kant” or “which side” audible. It could have been construed as the Springboks making light of the situation.

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“[The] government joins millions of South Africans, Africans and Springbok fans from across the globe in congratulating the world rugby 2023 champions,” begins the 375-word statement, which signs off, “The Webb Ellis [trophy] is in South Africa’s kant!!”

Mbonambi was cleared by World Rugby last week due to “insufficient evidence” to progress with disciplinary action. The Rugby Football Union reacted furiously, insisting Curry was being denied the opportunity to “have his voice heard” while also accusing Mbonambi of “the same abuse” during South Africa’s victory over England at Twickenham in November 2022.

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After being cleared, Mbonambi started Saturday’s World Cup final against the All Blacks but he was forced off the field with injury, going off after just three minutes after an incident involving New Zealand’s Shannon Frizell.

After South Africa’s 12-11 victory, the South Africa centre Damian de Allende said: “Bongi was very relaxed. He knows he did nothing wrong. Rassie, our director of rugby, sorted it out, so we didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t know what happened and I didn’t see a video or anything, so I can’t really say anything, but we didn’t let it come between us.

“If you do something wrong, you own up to it and say: ‘I’m sorry, I made a mistake, I did something wrong’. But Bongi never did that, so we accepted that he didn’t do anything wrong and we moved on from it straight after the game, I think Bongi handled it well.”

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De Allende also praised Mbonambi’s character before admitting “we all make mistakes”. The centre said: “He’s a great human. I know he had a bit of a backlash and Tom Curry also had a bit of a backlash, but we are all human beings.

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“Whether he did it or not, we all make mistakes, we all hear things wrong but I don’t [see] Bongi as being rude or racist to any race. I know he speaks three languages and he speaks them fluently.”