England’s Maro Itoje praises ‘courageous’ Tom Curry after World Rugby ignores racial slur claim

Tom Curry has been the target of threats and abuse  (Getty Images)
Tom Curry has been the target of threats and abuse (Getty Images)

Maro Itoje has praised the courage of his England rugby teammate Tom Curry after the conclusion of the investigation into Curry’s allegation that Bongi Mbonambi directed a racial slur at him.

World Rugby announced a conclusion to their investigation into the matter this morning citing a lack of evidence, a decision described by both England head coach Steve Borthwick and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) as “deeply disappointing”.

Curry had accused Mbonambi, the South Africa hooker, of calling him a “white c***” during last Saturday’s final, and separately having also made a remark towards him during the autumn international between the two nations last November.

Both England and Sale Sharks have condemned the abuse and threats that their player has received as a result of making his allegation during last Saturday’s World Cup semi-final.

And Itoje has said it is “disgraceful” that “the innocent party” in the matter had been targeted in such a way.

Maro Itoje has praised Tom Curry’s courage (Getty Images)
Maro Itoje has praised Tom Curry’s courage (Getty Images)

“Tom is the innocent party in this respect,” Itoje said. “He is the victim of the situation. For him to have this abuse is disgraceful.

“I think Tom has been tremendous. He’s been courageous to do what he’s done in the manner he’s done it, through proper channels, conducting himself in a manner he should be proud of.

“Definitely as teammates, we are proud of him. To do that isn’t easy. To make a statement like that isn’t easy. To call out stuff like that isn’t easy.

“As you’ve seen this week, when you do something courageous like that, you put yourself out there. He’s been absolutely fantastic in that regard.”

The RFU issued a statement immediately after World Rugby released their decision saying they were “deeply disappointed” that a full disciplinary hearing had not been held.

That sentiment was echoed by Borthwick a day ahead of England’s bronze medal match against Argentina.

“The RFU expressed great disappointment at World Rugby’s decision and that disappointment is shared by Tom, his teammates, the management team and everyone associated with this team,” Borthwick stressed.

“Tom Curry has done nothing wrong, let’s be clear on that. We have got a victim of a situation who has not been able to have his voice heard.

“By World Rugby’s decision, they have denied the victim of the situation, Tom Curry, [a chance] to have his voice heard. That’s where the disappointment really comes in.”

Mbonambi has been picked to start for South Africa in the World Cup final against New Zealand.

Curry, meanwhile, will start on the blindside for England at the Stade de France on Friday night.