World Rugby has started an official investigation into the allegation that Bongi Mbonambi made a racist comment during the Springboks’ match against England in the World Cup semi-final.
RNews reported earlier that it is alleged that Mbonambi (32) called English fullback Tom Curry a “white c**t” in the first half of Saturday’s 16-15 victory.
“World Rugby takes all allegations of discriminatory behavior extremely seriously,” the sports body said in a statement.
“We can confirm that we are conducting an official review regarding the allegation made by England’s Tom Curry in connection with the use of discriminatory language during England’s and South Africa’s semi-final match.
“World Rugby will not comment further until the process is completed.”
Curry approached referee Ben O’Keeffe about half an hour after Saturday’s matchup kicked off to report the alleged comment and asked what he should do in response.
“Nothing, please,” O’Keeffe reportedly replied, adding that he would handle it. Curry was asked after the game if Mbonambi, who also apparently refused to shake the England player’s hand at the end of the game, had said anything he objected to.
“Yes,” 25-year-old Curry replied, before adding that “there’s no need to talk about it”.
The South African Rugby Union (Saru) said on Sunday that it was aware of the allegation and was investigating.
“We are aware of the allegation, which we take very seriously, and are checking the available evidence,” says Saru’s statement on the matter. “We will enter into discussions with Bongi if anything is found to substantiate the allegation.”
England’s coach, Steve Borthwick, did not want to comment on the matter on Sunday.
Mbonambi is the Springboks’ only specialist hacker after Malcolm Marx was sent home due to injuries. Deon Fourie and Marco van Staden are the other two hooks in the Boks’ World Cup squad.