RWC 2023

Hot Curry accuses Mbonambi of ‘racial slur’ during Rugby World Cup semifinal

Hot Curry accuses Mbonambi of ‘racial slur’ during Rugby World Cup semifinal
Tom Curry of England during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and South Africa at Stade de France on 21 October 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo: Paul Harding / Getty Images) | Bongi Mbonambi of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup 2023 semifinal match between England and South Africa at Stade de France on 21 October 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo: Steve Haag / Gallo Images)

England flank Tom Curry accused Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi of flinging a racial slur during Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semifinal at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

England flank Tom Curry, no stranger to controversy himself, has accused Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi of racially slurring him during a tight Rugby World Cup semifinal on Saturday, which South Africa won 16-15.

According to several British media reports, Curry is heard on the ref mic asking New Zealand official Ben O’Keeffe: “Sir, if their hooker calls me a white c***, what do I do?

O’Keeffe replied: “Nothing, please. I’ll be on it.”

There is no audio, at least in the public domain, which picks up Mbonambi’s alleged remark in a match that had a few flare-ups.

England centre Manu Tuilagi grabbed Bok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach by the throat after the whistle had gone during the first half and earned his team a penalty.

Willie le Roux and England skipper Owen Farrell also had an altercation immediately after the final whistle. When asked about it afterwards Farrell said: “It was nothing, it was a misunderstanding.” 

Which might be exactly what transpired between Mbonambi and Curry considering the Afrikaans word for “side” is “kant”, which sounds exactly like the offensive word used.

In the mixed zone after the match, Curry declined to elaborate when asked about his comment to O’Keeffe. He confirmed Mbonambi made a remark he shouldn’t have and added: “It does not need to be talked about.” 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Rugby World Cup 2023 News Hub

Springbok management issued a one paragraph statement after the accusations. 

“We are aware of the allegation, which we take very seriously, and are reviewing the available evidence. We will engage with Bongi if anything is found to substantiate the claim.” 

Presumably getting Mbonambi’s version of events is part of “reviewing the available evidence”. He’s a material witness in the allegation. 

England head coach Steve Borthwick was asked about the allegation on Sunday and declined to comment while Bok assistant coach Deon Davids, on Sunday media duty, dead-batted it. 

“I am not aware of any comment, it was never discussed. I don’t know,” Davids said. 

After the match Mbonambi appeared to refuse to shake Curry’s hand, which further paints a picture of animosity and also raises the question of what Curry might have done. 

In the 2021 series between the Boks and the British & Irish Lions, Curry was involved in several unsavoury incidents. He shoulder-charged Faf de Klerk late in the first Test, but escaped with only a penalty. 

He was also the player who illegally pushed in from the side of scrum and lifted Bok prop Ox Nché dangerously. Nché suffered a neck injury and missed the rest of the series. 

England can refer any incident to the match citing commissioner within 24 hours of the final whistle. The citing officer then has a further 12 hours to lay any charges.

It’s an unnecessary distraction for the Boks as they build up for next weekend’s RWC 2023 final against the All Blacks. 

Mbonambi is the only recognised hooker in the squad and has also been skipper on the field when Kolisi goes off. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • ilike homophones says:

    come curry, life is tough, get a helmet … … … your reaction is doing our demographic no favors ….. ….. …… remember, we are the economic and social leaders, …. … … and running to the ref with such a mundane complaint, …. …. …. is setting a bad example for the other demographics …. …. ….

  • Dee Bee says:

    I’ve never heard of Bongi getting involved in any unsavory incidents (happy to be corrected) and see him as a level-headed guy, not prone to this kind of thing. The fact that he refused to shake Curry’s hand at the end of the match suggests that there is more than one side to this story too.

  • I am afraid racism can never be a one way street.

    • Pieter van de Venter says:

      You are 100% correct – It is however when sensation seeking journo’s blow things up – like the Bomb Squad “Racism” in Japan. An insident created by a journo with nothing to write about.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Bit of a dotty comment

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Maybe Bongie was referring to his jersey, as in

    Bly op jou wit kant [bliksem]

    But Bongie if it was a racial comment it really isn’t cool. Just stick to “side” rather – much more acceptable 😀

    The world is a weird place – truly.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Curry made an allegation,that he can’t back up with facts,in my opinion he is lying

    • Malcolm Mitchell says:

      Curry has a poor record for sportsmanship – remember the Lions tour.
      Also Bongi was probably being pushed to the limit, if in fact he did say something like this. Inter alia Bongi with his St. Albans private school background would know better than to trade insults with Curry.
      The win with over the English with their border line cheating is heartening to me as a citizen of Ireland.

  • Let the players find it in their heart to forgive each other…it might have been one misunderstood the other or vice-versu …life has to go on…
    The next project is finals between Boks and All blacks…
    And let the best team win

  • Brett Redelinghuys says:

    To test our ethics in this saga, reverse the roles and comments. Have Curry hypothetically say this to Mbonani.

    What would the situation look like and what level of effort would the press and officials go at this story?
    If this was said, it must be dealt with in the same manner or we are the very thing we profess not to be, Racist(s).

    • Karel Vlok says:

      Eish, and I thought Mr. Mbonambi was only (allegedly) making a statement of fact – bly aan jou wit kant, referring to the white and green teams. Not cnt (with you).

    • A B says:

      The only sound and non-biased comment I’ve read on this situation.

    • Pieter van de Venter says:

      If the roles were reversed, Curry would have been suspended for weeks by Sunday lunchtime. That is the inconvenient truth. Ask Eben Etsebeth how quickly a senior member (Tebang Jones) of the Gaum tribe can find you guilty.

    • Raymond van Niekerk says:

      Compared to all the other blinkered and partisan comments (justifications) yours is on point. Love the Boks and love Bongi – but if he said that he crossed a line. And btw, Curry was one of the few that congratulated the Boks after the 2019 win.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      The words used are irrelevant; the intention behind the delivery everything.

      For example would someone be offended if they were worshipped as a silky white Adonis? Or a sculpture in ebony?


      Our species is unable to take a step back and breathe. Touchy brainless sheep we are, one and all.

  • Johan Buys says:

    All England does is bitch, moan and act up. We watched the game again yesterday and Farrell’s behavior is unhinged and a poor example as team leader. I am certain there are many nasty things said during 80 minutes of close contact rugby. This specific insult does not really make sense, Bongi would have left out the white part.

    Farrell’s legacy will be that the 10m extra he cost his country with his drama also cost his country a place in the final.

  • Louis Pie says:

    Curry has earned himself the reputation of being of dishonourable character.

    Laying baseless charges without any evidence is a perfect fit for his character.

  • No Thanks says:

    Particularly fitting coming from the captain when Kolisi left the field. Despite the multitude of excuses and explanations offered in the online rugby mags (afrikaans for side or edge etc). An interview with the accused would enlighten us all.. I’m actually surprised you mentioned it Craig after your recent political hallowing of Kolisi and his team.

  • troy93 says:

    He said, “die bal is by die wit kant”

  • Ben Harper says:

    Even the way Bongi would possibly pronounce “can’t” could sound like a slur to an english ear.

    Don’t worry lads, it’s just another whingeing pom

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    Maybe he should have asked for a translation before running to the ref like a crybaby in a sport where you try and destroy each other physically. The boks speak afrikaans to each other simply because most of the other teams don’t understand. This is really becoming a farce when a white line said in a different language becomes the source of a formal investigation. Surely there are more pressing issues for the IRB to concern itself with.

  • Shaileen Davis says:

    It seems that Curry is well on his way to fulfilling / owning that alleged insult…
    He clearly still has a schoolboy mentality in the honourable game of men…
    Somebody please give Curry detention 🤣🏉

  • Pieter van de Venter says:

    Maybe Curry was recently informed by Reece-Mogg about the Anglo Boer War and he felt guilty as it was on or about 11 October 1899 that the English with the other three home nations and some volunteers invaded the Free State and Transvaal.

    What a sports day to remind the English not to tackle South Africans.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    I could care less what rugby players say to each other in the heat of battle and neither should anyone else. Expecting people who are engaged in what almost amounts to gladiatorial combat not to shit talk each other is silly. Having said all of that I also doubt that Bongi said what Curry claims he thinks he did and happily with the fact that the key word is pronounced almost indistinguishably in English and Afrikaans he’s almost certainly got a get out of jail free card.

  • Pall Catt says:

    If indeed this is true, he should explain in mitigation to the rugby authorities that he could hardly have been expected to know better because in South Africa, black on white racism is widely tolerated and accepted.

  • Betsy Kuhn says:

    Sour Sour Sour Curry

  • Betsy Kuhn says:

    Yeah…and the story that the ref made us win….laughting matter, springboks won against the ref and England…YOU GO BOYS MAKE US PROUD AGAIN

  • Enver Klein says:

    The things that rugby players say to goad their opposition is best left on the field and kept to the themselves. I’ve heard tales of sleeping with the opposition’s mothers, sisters, et al, insulting comments, etc., but I’ve never complained or had any member of my team or the opposition’s players complain about it. The comments are not intended to be discriminatory, they are there to take your focus off your game. Personally, I don’t think Bongi would have called Curry ‘n kant 😉, although I do think that he is a dirty “cry-baby”.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    I don’t believe that Bongi has done anything that is so bad. He is a far too balanced person to do it. Anything that he may have done were clearly earned by Curry and Curry deserved it.

  • Frank Lee says:

    Shame on anyone for judging him before he has even had opportunity to state his side/rendition of what was said. It is a sad day when folks do not back our Boks who go to such great lengths for sport and national pride, but instead rush to judgement. At least support the man wholeheartedly until there is unequivocal proof.

  • cjg grobler says:


  • Dawie CT says:

    Bongi called 3 times loudly ‘Wyd kant, wyd kant, wyd kant’ after which Curry went to the ref and complained. By the way, the ref was close to Bongi when he called these words, so I trust the IRB will have Afrikaans translators to give them the correct version of what was said. The audio is on Reddit and available on the internet should you want to listen to it. Bongi is not heard clearly, but Curry speaking to the ref is.

  • Brent Hudson says:

    Audio has surfaced, albeit somewhat garbled where you can hear Mbonambi calling out the alleged slur. It certainly sounds like “wit kant” but the fact that he repeats it in a tone that clearly indicated he is directing it to his team mates should exonerate him.
    Far more insidious is the fact that Curry dawdles around the pitch quite near to the ref before he make his accusation. He swans around and even starts walking in the opposite direction, then suddenly does an about turn and beelines for the ref with his little “sir, sir”, schoolboy number. Interestingly he does NOT directly accuse Mbonambi of the slur and is careful to use the work ‘IF” as he quite well knows that this was not a slur and that he is simply attempting to cause disruption to the game and possibly a red card. I believe Curry is the one who should be under investigation.

  • David Lloyd says:

    Poor white “Uncle Tom” who politely asked the referee to adjudicate the use of an unpleasant misogynist curse. I would never have associated C*** with racial profiling but as an old fogie many of my utterances could be misconstrued in this day and age.
    The ‘kant’ argument is very attractive.

  • Abri Vermeulen says:

    Hilarious – everyone in South Africa knows that that (kant / can’t) is not how we swear / insult…

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