"No misunderstanding" - Tom Curry stands by racism claim against World Cup winner - Ruck

“No misunderstanding” – Tom Curry stands by racism claim against World Cup winner

Despite World Rugby’s inconclusive findings, England’s Tom Curry resolutely stands by his assertion that South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi racially abused him during the World Cup semi-final clash.

World Rugby’s investigation concluded with “insufficient evidence” to substantiate Curry’s claim of racial abuse by Mbonambi, occurring midway through the first half of the intense match in Paris.

Mbonambi, the Springboks’ hooker, countered the accusation, branding England’s conduct as “unprofessional,” attributing the alleged misunderstanding to Curry’s unfamiliarity with Afrikaans.

He explained that speaking Afrikaans on the field is customary among Springbok players to prevent opponents from comprehending their communications.

Disregarding Mbonambi’s defence, Curry remained steadfast in his account of the incident, highlighting the distressing aftermath for his loved ones, including his girlfriend and family, who endured online abuse following the controversy.

“I heard what I heard,” Curry affirmed to the Daily Mail, elaborating that the alleged exchange occurred during a moment when the ball was out of play, leaving no room for misinterpretation on his part.

Despite the turmoil it brought upon his personal circles, Curry expressed his reluctance to delve further into the matter, emphasising that the investigation had concluded, and he had said all he intended to on the subject.

He added: “I didn’t really want to speak about it from the start. For me, on both occasions, the ball was out of play. Me and Bongi were talking and there’s no misunderstanding from my part,” Curry told the Daily Mail.

“I went to the referee straight away. I heard what I heard. That’s all I really want to say about it and I won’t really be talking about it again.

“It was tough for my family, my girlfriend and my brother. It was a tough experience but it is what it is. The investigation’s been done and that’s all I want to say about it.”

World Rugby said it was “concerned” by the online abuse both Mbonambi and Curry suffered after the incident.

“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,” a statement read.

The game’s global governing body added that the case was “closed unless additional evidence comes to light”.


Fullback: Israel Folau (Australia)

Owens said: “For me, it’s nip and tuck between Halfpenny and Folau, next to nothing to choose between them. Leigh is brilliant because under the high ball and with his kicking at goal under pressure. He may not always break the line when running but puts his body on the line in defence and is a top-notch match-winner.

“But I go for Folau – only just, I should stress – because of his ability to seemingly beat his man every time he gets the ball in his hand. He’s such an exciting player and like Leigh he is one of the best under the high ball.

“It’s a toss of a coin for me… and it’s come down in Folau’s favour.”

Winger: Stuart Hogg (Scotland)

Owens said: “How can you fail to be impressed when watching Hogg play. He’s so exciting as he burst into that line and, of course, was named Six Nations player of the tournament.

“I know he’s a full-back for Scotland, but he is so quick and direct he could easily play on the wing. He reminds me a bit of Shane Williams with some of the things he does.

“When you see who is on the other wing in my team, you’ll see how they would work brilliantly in tandem.”

Fixtures for the Six Nations - Round 1

Outside-centre: Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland)

Owens said: “Not only is he one of the greatest centres in the history of rugby union but he’s a fantastic man off the field as well. O’Driscoll has been a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a real leader. He always respected referees and set the right example for others to follow.

“A legend of the game who conducted himself superbly, on and off the pitch.”

Inside-centre: Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand)

Owens said: “He’s another brilliant player and after every game, win or lose, he would come up and give me a hug. Ma’a has always found time at after-match functions or at breakfast if we’ve been staying at the same hotel to come over and have a chat.

“What a player, mind, too. One of the stalwarts of the New Zealand side for so many years.”

Winger: Shane Williams (Wales)

Owens said: “When people ask me who is the best player I have refereed it’s pretty much an impossible task to pick one because I’ve been lucky enough to take charge of so many greats.

“But if I’m pushed, I would pick Shane for what he achieved after coming from football at 17 or 18 years of age.

“He was in the mould of Gerald Davies in how he left defenders gasping for air as he beat them with those dazzling sidesteps. Nobody would fancy defending against a back three of Shane, Hogg and Folau, I can tell you that.”