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Slur allegation made in heated exchange between Curry and Mbonambi

By Ian Cameron
Tom Curry of England walks through the players tunnel at half-time during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between England and South Africa at Stade de France on October 21, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Questions are being asked over the context to a number of heated exchanges between England flanker Tom Curry and South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi.


The Springboks scrapped their way into the Rugby World Cup with a gutsy 16-15 win over England, who despite coming in in as heavy underdogs led the game for the best part of 80 minutes.

It was a feisty affair that boiled over at times, with a few all-in-handbags between the sides spilling out in the first half, handbags which kicked off again after the final whistle, with Owen Farrell and Willie Le Roux getting into, although the pair shook hands a few moments later, suggesting it wasn’t the most bad-tempered of interactions.

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Farrell described it as a ‘misunderstanding’ after the game.

However, it was an earlier prickly exchange between Curry and Mbonambi around the 23rd-minute mark that caught the eye of some viewers. Words were exchanged between the pair which enraged Curry to the extent that the Sale Sharks player brought a complaint to match-day referee Ben O’Keeffe.

The exchange between Curry and O’Keeffe was picked up by the ref mic, and in it Curry accuses the hooker of racially abusing him.

Curry said to O’Keeffe: “Sir, Sir, if their hooker calls me a white c*** what do I do?” to which O’Keeffe replies: “Nothing please,” before suggesting that the comment may well have been picked up by the match day audio.


It was far from a common exchange, as it’s rare enough that a player will approach a referee over comments made during a match by another player.

Nothing came of it at the time but after the final whistle was blown as Curry put his hand out the shake the hooker’s hand, it was refused.

Mbonambi looked pretty annoyed, walking straight off the pitch in the direction of the changing rooms, seemingly not bothering to partake in the post-match handshaking or pitchside fan engagement, at least not initially at least.

Curry confirmed to reporters after the match that something had been said, although he refused to elaborate on exactly what: “Yeah… No, it doesn’t need to be talked about. Listen, I’m not talking about it now.”


Whether any more comes of the incident – be it due to an official complaint or a citing officer complaint – remains to be seen.

If Mbonambi is banned, it would make life difficult for the Springboks, as it would leave them with just Deon Fourie – a back row moonlighting as a hooker – as a stand-in.



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Pierre 267 days ago

Please put up the video evidence of Rugby Pass with sound and all so that it can be cleared up once and for all a heated exchange between the two players I can't find it on Stan Sport perhaps you have video evidence to show us all.

rayana 267 days ago

In South Africa one of the official languages is Afrikaans and Kant means side and because the England team was wearing white he meant to say the white side = white Kant 🙃

Jaco 268 days ago

If Bongi indeed used those exact words, I will be extremely surprised. He is the most mild mannered, friendly guy. Would love to know what Curry did or said to deserve that.

Billy 268 days ago

Imagine the international outrage if he misgendered him.

TingTong 269 days ago

Forgetting the ifs and maybes of the actual situation, If Curry was just called a C, then would he take that as abuse?
If he was called an English C would that be racist or just abuse?
What we can deduce is that Curry is a weak C for complaining to the referee and not dealing with the matter himself.

B.J. Spratt 269 days ago

“If anyone is affected by sledging on the field they shouldn’t be playing Rugby.

Then an Englishmen called “Curry” complaining about Racism.

My favourite was Fitzpatrick. He was the best.

You sound like you would react to a “sledge Ruckaa” and judging by by the way you write, I can understand why?

A bit rich, Pom’s complaining about Racism don’t you think?

World Rugby need “a storm” right now to take the heat of “Big Bad Billy Beaumont and his partner in crime Bernard Laporte.

Anyway hope it’s a great Final. No Red cards.

All Blacks Start Sensationally 3 quick tries. Game Over!

NZ by 35+

Gerald 269 days ago

If the Aussie cricket side were reported for their chirping over the last 10 years, they would probably not had enough players in their squad to put a full team on the pitch. Terrible language.

Gerald 269 days ago

Been a tough route for Saffa- having played at certain stages this WC against the 2 Nd, 3 rd, 4 th, 5 th best sides and now face the ABs in the final. Not sure any side has had to take a route like this in the past. Tough draw.

Gerald 269 days ago

Our side looked emotionally and physically stuffed. I feel we might need to freshen up the team, and find some crucial energy. Also hope the Paris weather plays ball for all so we can have a great game. While I am fully behind the Saffa team, I hope for a great game played properly with no cynical approach and hopefully the Boks play their part. May the best side win and may it be a game worthy of a final.

Gerald 269 days ago

be nice to focus on rugger. An interesting fact someone showed me- we have played 5 WC knockout games against England - 400 minutes of rugger- and England have yet to score a try. We played crap, and England played well, and we still won. Crazy.

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