World Rugby Statement: Tom Curry and Bongi Mbonambi - Ruck

World Rugby Statement: Tom Curry and Bongi Mbonambi

In a controversial development, South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi has faced allegations of employing a racial epithet directed at England’s flanker, Tom Curry, during their victorious Rugby World Cup semi-final.

Curry brought the issue to the attention of referee Ben O’Keeffe approximately 30 minutes into the match, informing him of the reported comment and seeking guidance on how to address the situation.

The hooker and vice-captain is alleged to have insulted Curry around the 28th minute of the game, with numerous reports suggesting the English flanker complained he had been called a “white c***”.

They’ve said in a statement: “World Rugby 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. 

“World Rugby will not be making further comment until the conclusion of the process.”

England had a deadline of 10:00 on Monday to raise a complaint with the citing commissioner, but that timeframe passed without any subsequent action from England.

It’s worth noting that World Rugby retains the authority to cite Mbonambi within a 36-hour window, even in the absence of a complaint from England.

Mbonambi’s alleged misconduct pertains to rule 9.12 within World Rugby’s regulations, which addresses verbal abuse by players. A conviction under this rule carries a minimum penalty of a six-match suspension.

Nonetheless, it appears highly improbable that the accusations against Mbonambi can be substantiated, making further action quite unlikely.

A video has resurfaced of Bongi Mbonambi & Tom Curry having previous beef, see it below;


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.”

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.”