Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Rugby’s world governing body is investigating after England player Tom Curry alleged he suffered a racist insult during Saturday’s World Cup semi-final defeat by South Africa.

Curry told the referee, Ben O’Keefe, about an incident with South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi at around 30 minutes of the match at the Stade de France.

There is no audio available of the alleged comment by Mbonambi.

England’s Tom Curry (right) and South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi

But the Sale flanker can clearly be heard on a recording via O’Keeffe’s microphone making the allegation of a racist slur to the New Zealand official in the 28th minute of the match.

He said: “Sir, sir, if their hooker calls me a white **** what do I do?”

O’Keefe replied: “Nothing please.” Then he adds: “I’ll be on it,” though it is unclear if he is referring to the specific incident.

World Rugby said in a statement on Monday that it “takes all allegations of discriminatory behaviour extremely seriously.

“We can confirm that we are formally reviewing the allegation made by England’s Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language during the England versus South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final on Saturday.”

South African radio presenter Dan Corder said in a video posted on social media platform, X, that Mbonambi may just have been speaking in Afrikaans, which the Springboks frequently do so that opponents can’t understand.

England’s Tom Curry speaks to referee Ben O’Keeffe during the semi-final

South Africa had already said they were looking into the allegation.

When asked after the match if Mbonambi had said something he shouldn’t have done, Curry replied “yeah”, although he declined to reveal what was said.

Mbonambi refused to shake Curry’s hand at the end of the contest in Paris, which the Springboks won with a penalty two minutes from the end.

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England – who had until Monday morning to lodge an official complaint with the citing officer – have declined to comment.

If World Rugby’s inquiry triggers disciplinary proceedings they are likely to fall under the banner of ‘bringing the game into disrepute’, which can result in a range of sanctions including a suspension and/or a fine.

No indication has been given of how long the investigation will take, complicating South Africa’s build-up to the World Cup final, but it is understood there is a desire for it to be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible.

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