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