South Africa star Bongi Mbonambi denies racial slur at Tom Curry at World Cup… as hooker claims he was speaking in Afrikaans and slams England for being ‘unprofessional’
- Tom Curry claimed said Bongi Mbonambi called him a ‘white c***’
- England forward reported the alleged racial slur to referee Ben O’Keeffe
- World Rugby’s investigation decided there was ‘insufficient evidence’
South Africa World Cup winner Bongi Mbonambi has denied racially abusing Tom Curry, hitting out at England and the flanker in the process by describing them as ‘unprofessional’.
In the semi-final between the two teams last month, Curry asked referee Ben O’Keeffe how he should respond after he said Mbonambi called him a ‘white c***’.
The incident prompted a post-match storm, with World Rugby’s subsequent investigation deciding there was ‘insufficient evidence’ the Springboks hooker had made such a slur.
Mbonambi told BBC Sport Africa the confusion came about because he was speaking in Afrikaans.
‘I think it is a very sad thing when you live in a first-world country and you think the rest of the world speaks English,’ he said, speaking about the incident with Curry for the first time.
South Africa World Cup winner Bongi Mbonambi has denied racially abusing Tom Curry
Curry reported the alleged racial slur to referee Ben O’Keeffe during World Cup semi-final
‘It was unprofessional on their (England’s) part.
‘They could have gone on a website and looked for an English dictionary and looked for the word in Afrikaans.
‘People understood (in South Africa) but obviously their (England’s) side was misunderstood.
‘I’m glad it was well taken care of and that is all in the past now. I never racially swore at him.’
England and Curry’s club Sale criticised both World Rugby’s investigation and the abuse the player was given for merely reporting what he had heard.
The fall-out soured what was otherwise a fine tournament.
It was also alleged Curry and Mbonambi had clashed when their respective sides met at Twickenham in November last year.
Curry claimed a similar comment was made by Mbonambi in that game.
‘I don’t know him at all,’ said Mbonambi when asked about his relationship with Curry.
While he was being investigated by World Rugby, Mbonambi faced an anxious wait to see if he could feature in his team’s final with New Zealand.
South Africa beat England by a point in the last four.
The RFU alleged Curry was also abused by Mbonambi in an Autumn Nations match in 2022
After being cleared to face the All Blacks, Mbonambi started the Paris final which his team won 12-11 although he was forced off injured in just the fourth minute with a knee problem.
When clearing Mbonambi of any wrongdoing, World Rugby said the case was closed ‘unless additional evidence comes to light’.
Their investigation included video and audio analysis.
South Africa – now back-to-back world champions – always backed Mbonambi and protested his innocence.
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