Rugby World Cup: Final decision made on Bongi Mbonambi after alleged 'white c**t' slur towards England star

Bongi Mbonambi

Rugby World Cup: Chiefs have dropped their investigation into South Africa star Bongi Mbonambi

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 26/10/2023

- 08:39

Updated: 26/10/2023

- 09:48

World Rugby have opted to drop their investigation into South Africa star Bongi Mbonambi.

The hooker helped his side beat England 16-15 on Saturday night, ending the 2003 champions' dreams of Rugby World Cup glory in the process.

During that match, Tom Curry complained to the referee that he had been on the receiving end of a racist slur.

He was heard saying: “Sir if their hooker calls me a white c**t, what do I do?”

Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup: England star Tom Curry claimed Bongi Mbonambi had called him a 'white c**t'


Official Ben O’Keeffe then replied saying: "Nothing please."

He later added: "I'll be on it."

World Rugby then confirmed they would be conducting an investigation into the 32-year-old.

But they have now announced no charges will be made against Mbonambi.

Within minutes, the global governing body confirmed there was insufficient evidence to take any action against the Springbok hooker.

The RFU have reacted with fury, while also saying it wasn't the first time it has happened. A statement said: "The RFU fully support Tom Curry in raising the racially abusive behaviour he experienced whilst playing for England against South Africa.

"During the match between England and South Africa on Saturday 21st October 2023, Tom Curry reported to the referee that he had been racially abused by Mbongeni (Bongi) Mbonambi.

"The subsequent World Rugby investigation were informed by Tom Curry that he had also been the victim of the same abuse, from the same player, in the autumn Test 2022.

"World Rugby have today announced their decision not to bring charges in respect of either incident.

"The RFU are deeply disappointed by the decision taken by World Rugby.

"The decision not to put the evidence before an Independent Disciplinary Panel has denied the disciplinary process the opportunity to hear Tom Curry’s voice and to independently assess his account of these serious events, together with the other available evidence.

"In their continued full support of Tom, the RFU together with the England squad, condemn the disgusting abuse he and his family has received on social media as a result of his having had the courage to put unacceptable behaviour that has no place in society or on the rugby field, in the public eye.

"Abuse of any kind is not acceptable and goes against the core values of rugby.

"It is important that it is safe and acceptable for everyone involved in rugby union to raise concerns, and the RFU continue to encourage everyone to report any unacceptable behaviour in the game."

World Rugby's own statement explaining their decision read: "World Rugby has undertaken a review of allegations made by England’s Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language by South Africa’s Mbongeni Mbonambi during the England versus South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final on Saturday, along with a further allegation brought forward in recent days about a previous match in the Autumn Nations Series 2022.

"Any allegation of discrimination is taken extremely seriously by World Rugby, warranting a thorough investigation.

"Having considered all available evidence, including match footage, audio and evidence from both teams, the governing body has determined that there is insufficient evidence at this time to proceed with charges.

"Therefore, the matter is deemed closed unless additional evidence comes to light.

"It is important to note that World Rugby accepts that Tom Curry made the allegations in good faith, and that there is no suggestion that the allegation was deliberately false or malicious.

"World Rugby is also concerned by the social media abuse that both players have been subjected to this week.


Bongi Mbonambi Rugby World Cup

Rugby World Cup: Bongi Mbonambi is set to play for South Africa against New Zealand in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final


"There is no place in rugby or society for discrimination, abuse or hate speech, and World Rugby urges fans to embrace the sport’s values of respect, integrity and solidarity."

Mbonambi is set to start for South Africa against New Zealand in Saturday night's blockbuster Rugby World Cup final.

The defending champions are hoping to retain their crown having enjoyed a successful tournament so far.

England star Curry has faced horrendous abuse online since reporting the incident.

His club, Sale Sharks, condemned the actions of fans on X by saying: "Sale Sharks' owners, players, coaches and staff are absolutely appalled by the nature and level of disgusting abuse directed at Tom Curry and his family in relation to an incident in the England v South Africa World Cup semi-final.

"Everyone at the club stands fully and proudly behind Tom and we look forward to welcoming him back to Carrington."

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