‘Rugby saved me from the worst side of life’: Bongi Mbonambi

South Africans have shown tremendous support to Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi amid the racism allegation levelled against him by England flanker Tom Curry.

From messages of encouragement to videos explaining what he likely told the English rugby player and, of course, banter.Amid the drama, a video of Mbonambi speaking about how his love for the sport developed, and subsequently saved his life, was shared on social media. The video was first posted on the Springboks Youtube channel in November 2022.

“I grew up in Bohlokong, the kasi of Bethlehem. That’s where I first learnt about rugby when I was ten years old, I played a bit for the school. When I got home, I’d still play rugby with my friends.


“We used to make our own makeshift rugby balls, form the lemoensak (orange bag) with the newspapers into like an oval-shaped thing and then we’d play anywhere, wherever there was an open ground, or in the middle of the road, in the middle of the streets. We’d play almost the whole day until it gets dark.Mbonambi explained that there were only two of them who meant to a private school in the whole street of Bohlokong so they’d come back from school and teach the rest of their friends how to play rugby.

“We didn’t have grass patches where we could play tackle, so we’d play touchies, but then things would get out of hand and turn into tackle. And that’s how my love for rugby started.”

“Those are the good memories I have of my first love for rugby. I think rugby saved me from the worst side of life and showed me a better side and I’m glad that I found my passion for it and my love for