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Springbok star Bongi Mbonambi issues classy response after clashing with referee

Sharks captain Bongi Mbonambi has revealed he apologised to referee Aimee Barrett-Theron following their interaction during Saturday’s URC clash.

Sharks' Bongi Mbonambi, Referee Aimee Barrett-Theron and Emirates Lions' Marius Louw at the coin toss BKT United Rugby Championship, Emirates Airlines Park.

Sharks captain Bongi Mbonambi has revealed he apologised to referee Aimee Barrett-Theron following their interaction during Saturday's URC clash.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Mbonambi, captain of the Sharks on the day, was admonished by the referee after trying to find out why a try had been disallowed. The Durban outfit were 19-10 in arrears at the time and desperate to turn their recent run of poor results around.

Mbonambi was unhappy about a TMO call and, as a result, the situation could have escalated, but Barrett-Theron did brilliantly to calm the situation down, while also demanding respect from the 33-year-old in an incident that went viral online.

She started by asking the Sharks skipper: “Bongi, can you walk with me please, this way?” before going on to say, “Bongi may I speak, please? Listen, I fully respect you and who you are, and I am well aware that all of your players have probably played more games than I have refereed in the URC.

“But we are on the same field so if you could show me the same respect that I show you, that would be very much appreciated.”

That appeared to do the job as Mbonambi then seemingly changed tact and asked Barrett-Theron: “They are just looking to me for answers, so was it foul play?” with Barrett-Theron responding, “Yes, that was foul play.”

Mbonambi came in for some criticism after the match, but the 33-year-old has since released a statement via the Sharks which addresses his actions and apologises to Barrett-Theron.

“As players we have to take a hard look at ourselves after this result. We cannot blame anyone else and have a lot of hard work ahead of us,” it read.

“I am an all-in type of player and sometimes my emotions may get the better of me.

“I have full respect for officials and the role they play within our sport. It was never my intention to come across as rude or difficult. I apologised to the referee at half-time and meant absolutely no disrespect.”

Head coach John Plumtree also had a message for the supporters, who are becoming increasingly annoyed at the team’s poor displays.

“It was a frustrating performance from us and we were just not good enough,” he said.

“As a club, we are better than this and set ourselves high standards, which we are not achieving at this stage.

“We acknowledge the hurt and disappointment amongst our fans as we are hurting just as much as everyone else who loves this brand.

“Thank you to our fans and sponsors for sticking with us during these difficult times. Rest assured there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to ensure future success.”

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