The English governing body said it was "deeply disappointed" in World Rugby's decision not to press charges
The RFU has slammed World Rugby’s decision not to press charges against South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi after he was accused of racial abuse by England flanker Tom Curry.
The English governing body said it was “deeply disappointed” that the matter was not being put in front of an independent disciplinary committee with World Rugby deciding there was “insufficient evidence” to progress, leaving the 32-year-old free to start the World Cup final against New Zealand on Saturday night.
The RFU condemned the abuse Curry and his family have faced on social media in the wake of the allegations as “disgusting”. It also confirmed that a second allegation of similar abuse by the same player, that allegedly took place in the November 2022 Test between these two teams, had been brought forward.
RFU statement after Bongi Mbonambi decision
Its statement in full read: “The RFU fully support Tom Curry in raising the racially abusive behaviour he experienced whilst playing for England against South Africa.
“During the match between England and South Africa on Saturday 21st October 2023, Tom Curry reported to the referee that he has been racially abused by Mbongeni Mbonambi.
“The subsequent World Rugby investigation were informed by Tom Curry that he had also been the victim of the same abuse, from the same player, in the Autumn Test 2022. World Rugby have today announced their decision not to bring charges in respect of either incident.
“The RFU are deeply disappointed by the decision taken by World Rugby. The decision not to put the evidence before an Independent Disciplinary Panel has denied the disciplinary process the opportunity to hear Tom Curry’s voice and to independently assess his account of these serious events, together with the other available evidence.
“In their continued full support of Tom, the RFU together with the England Squad, condemn the disgusting abuse he and his family has received on social media as a result of his having had the courage to put unacceptable behaviour that has no place in society or on the rugby field, in the public eye.
“Abuse of any kind is not acceptable and goes against the core values of rugby. It is important that it is safe and acceptable for everyone involved in rugby union to raise concerns, and the RFU continue to encourage everyone to report any unacceptable behaviour in the game.”
World Rugby statement in full
“World Rugby has undertaken a review of allegations made by England’s Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language by South Africa’s Mbongeni Mbonambi during the England versus South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final on Saturday along with a further allegation brought forward in recent days about a previous match in the Autumn Nations Series 2022.
“Any allegation of discrimination is taken extremely seriously by World Rugby, warranting a thorough investigation. Having considered all the available evidence, including match footage, audio and evidence from both teams, the governing body has determined that there is insufficient evidence at this time to proceed with charges. Therefore, the matter is deemed closed unless additional evidence comes to light.
“It is important to note that World Rugby accepts that Tom Curry made the allegations in good faith, and that there is no suggestion that the allegation was deliberately false or malicious.
“World Rugby is also concerned by the social media abuse that both players have been subjected to this week. There is no place in rugby or society for discrimination, abuse or hate speech, and World Rugby urges fans to embrace the sport’s values of respect, integrity and solidarity.”
South Africa release statement after Bongi Mbonambi decision
“SA Rugby has noted World Rugby’s announcement concerning their investigation into an incident arising from the Rugby World Cup semi-final and welcomes the decision that no further action will be taken.
“Any form of racism is abhorrent to SA Rugby and the Springbok team whose purpose is to do everything in its power to assist in uniting our diverse and multicultural nation.
“Bongi Mbonambi is an experienced, respected and decorated Test player and, needless to say, denied the allegations from the outset. SA Rugby has absolute faith in the honesty and integrity of Bongi.
“The team’s focus remains, as it has throughout the week, on Saturday’s match against New Zealand.
“SA Rugby will make no further comment on the matter.”