England rally around Tom Curry amid Bongi Mbonambi racism investigation

Curry has alleged he was racially abused by the South Africa hooker in England’s semi-final defeat

Duncan Bech
Tuesday 24 October 2023 17:15 BST
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Related video: England's Tom Curry 'understands what it takes' to defeat South Africa

England insist Tom Curry is ready for Friday’s World Cup bronze final as squad and management rally around the flanker caught in a racism storm.

World Rugby is investigating an allegation made by Curry that he was racially abused by South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi in the first half of Saturday’s semi-final defeat.

Curry claimed to referee Ben O’Keeffe that he was called a “white c***” by Mbonambi and, after a complaint made by the Rugby Football Union, audio and video footage is being examined for evidence.

If the 25-year-old is picked against Argentina on Friday night it will be his 50th cap and attack coach Richard Wigglesworth is confident the alleged incident will not be a disruption as England prepare to sign off their World Cup.

“Tom is good. I know players will have got around him. Steve and the management team have been all over it. I’m sure he’s getting every bit of support that he needs,” Wigglesworth said.

“I’m not sure you can ever put yourself in those shoes and know that feeling. What I do know is he’s an impressive young man who, if selected on Friday, will pour everything into that England shirt as he has done on the previous 49 occasions.

“It will be dealt with by World Rugby. We get stuck into our prep for Argentina. The process is the process and we have no knowledge of how long that will go on for or the outcome, but we have to get ready for Argentina.

“Every week there is always some sort of thing you could be distracted by. It’s international rugby, there’s a lot you could be distracted by. You want to be in situations where there are distractions.

“This distraction is different, but it’s still noise that isn’t about Friday night, our prep and our desire to finish in the right way.

“World Rugby has been pretty vocal in following up things in the past and they need to do the same again.”

Tom is good. I know players will have got around him. Steve and the management team have been all over it

Richard Wigglesworth

Wigglesworth’s words were echoed by Ben Earl, England’s player of the World Cup who started the last two matches in the same back row as the Sale openside.

“Tom’s a brilliant team-mate, a brilliant friend of mine. He’s also an incredibly resilient guy,” Earl said.

“He gives his all for the team and I know he’s going to be doing that this weekend. I hope it all gets resolved very quickly.”

Wigglesworth was unable to shed any light on a report that defence coach Kevin Sinfield will leave England after the World Cup by mutual consent.

England’s defence has improved markedly during the tournament in France and they only conceded one try to world champions South Africa.

“There’s nothing that I’ve been aware of from Kevin, so it’s a hard one to comment on because it’s not me who the story is about,” Wigglesworth said.

“Hopefully there’s not much in it. I’m sure that post-World Cup and down the line we’ll find out if there is.

“He’s a close ally of mine from Leicester. We were two guys who lived away from the club so we travelled and stayed over.

“I spent a lot of time with him, and even more time with him through this whole process.

“I’m very close to him so I’m probably incredibly biased about what Kev brings but I’m sure the lads in the environment will tell you that he gives absolutely everything.

“He’s had a big impact on individuals and gives up a lot of his time to help. We know he’s that sort of person and he’s done an exceptional job of doing it.”

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