England's Tom Curry accuses Bok's Mbonambi of using 'racial slur'
Bongi Mbonambi has been accused of using a racial slur against England flank Tom Curry in Saturday's semifinal in Paris.
Curry alleged Mbonambi called him a “white c**t”. In videos and audio clips on social media Curry can be heard making the allegation to referee Ben O'Keefe during the game at Stade de France.
Curry's complaint was recorded on the referee's microphone in the 28th minute. The flank said to O'Keefe: “Sir, Sir, if their hooker calls me a white c**t what do I do?”
O’Keeffe responded by saying: “Nothing please. I’ll be on it.” There is no audio available of the alleged comment by Mbonambi.
South Africa won the tense semifinal 16-15 after a Handré Pollard penalty in the closing minutes. Curry, after the game, confirmed the incident with Mbonambi but declined to state what was said.
The England flank appeared to attempt shaking hands with Mbonambi but the Bok hooker seemed to push his hand away.
England are likely to leave the matter in the hands of World Rugby's disciplinary procedures. The post-match citing window is 36 hours.
SA Rugby said in a statement: “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.”
There were flare-ups during the semifinal and at the end England captain Owen Farrell and Bok substitute Willie le Roux appeared to have words. Farrell later brushed the incident aside saying it was purely a misunderstanding.
“No. It doesn’t need to be talked about. I’m not talking about it now,” he said.
If the allegation against Mbonambi's is proved true it will be a blight on the Boks hooker's reputation as one of the senior players in the squad.
When captain Siya Kolisi has been off the field Mbonambi has taken the reins of the team at the World Cup.
His performance for the Boks in their semifinal win was largely lauded. He was guilty of a few crooked line-out feeds but his contributions in the tight loose and the scrums were impeccable.
Mbonambi has had to step up in workload over the last few weeks in the absence of Malcolm Marx who was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury early in the campaign.
“For us to get that scrum, for Ox [Nché] and Vincent [Koch] and Bongi, who has been amazing,” Kolisi said after the game about the scrum that led to Pollard's penalty and helped decide the match.
Loose head prop Steven Kitshoff also praised Mbonambi's performance referring to his tireless effort across the 80 minutes.