CHRIS FOY: There are no winners from the Tom Curry and Bongi Mbonambi incident following World Rugby’s investigation… the torrent of poison which this has unleashed has tarnished the sport’s claim to hold unique ‘core values’
- Tom Curry reported Bongi Mbonambi called him a ‘white c***’ during semi-final
- The RFU alleged Curry was previously abused in a 2022 Autumn Nations match
- World Rugby ruled that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges
Apparently, there’s a World Cup Final happening this weekend. You’d be forgiven for not realising that the sport’s pinnacle fixture is looming, given the events of recent days.
It has been a horrible week. It has been a toxic week. It has been damaging to the reputation of the game as a whole, two leading players caught in the middle of the storm and some sections of rugby’s fan base, who have behaved appallingly. Social media has been an open sewer in relation to the race row which has been raging. The level of vitriol has been revolting.
Tip-toeing through this issue is complicated. Discrimination based on ethnicity is not a subject which lends itself to calm, reasoned debate and a measured assessment of facts and evidence. It is a divisive and volatile hot topic. Even just reporting on the story this week has apparently been sufficient justification to attract savage abuse.
The World Rugby ruling that there is insufficient evidence leaves no winners. Both sides have suffered in this.
Offering a perspective is difficult as it is not balanced, due to better knowledge of one side than the other, but here goes…
Tom Curry (right) reported that Bongi Mbonambi (left) called him a ‘white c***’ during England’s Rugby World Cup semi-final defeat to South Africa
Curry reported the alleged comment to referee Ben O’Keeffe during the semi-final but World Rugby ruled that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges against Mbonambi
The RFU alleged Curry was also abused by Mbonambi in an Autumn Nations match in 2022
The striking scale of outrage from England and the RFU suggests there is no doubt on their side that Curry has not misconstrued an innocent remark
Tom Curry is a good man. In so many direct dealings with him over the last six or seven years, the Sale flanker has always been courteous and has always appeared genuine and honest.
It is hard to imagine someone less likely to contrive an allegation of racism as an act of spite against an opponent. Even his complaint to the referee was polite and respectful, in circumstances where he felt he had been subjected to what he considered to be an outrageous slur.
Based on extensive knowledge of a hard-working, decent player, it is impossible to imagine he has not been utterly truthful. And the striking scale of the outrage from England and the RFU suggests there is no doubt on their side that Curry has not misconstrued an innocent remark.
Saying Curry is a good, trustworthy man is not to say, by definition, that Mbonambi is not. This observer cannot vouch for his character as his team-mates and coaches have done forcefully.
All that can be reiterated is that there are no winners here – and that the torrent of poison which this has unleashed has been a disgrace which tarnished any remaining pretence that rugby possesses unique, special ‘core values’.
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