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.

The former Bishop Heber School pupil from Malpas 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.

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

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.”

World Rugby was on Tuesday evening unable to provide any update on its investigation into the allegation made against Mbonambi but intends on completing the process as quickly as possibly.

RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney revealed that Curry is receiving legal aid from KC Richard Smith, who is part of England’s touring party in France.

“Because it’s a live, legal case we can’t really comment on it but clearly we’ll support Tom, absolutely,” Sweeney said.

“It’s in World Rugby’s hands. Richard has been around the squad for years and having a KC in camp is really helpful. Tom’s getting all the support he needs. We’ve provided the required statements.”

Meanwhile Curry’s club have hit out at the “disgusting abuse” directed at the England player since he alleged he was racially abused in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final against South Africa.

Curry has been subjected to online threats since he made the allegation and his team Sale Sharks issued a statement expressing their strident support for him on Wednesday.

“Sale Sharks’ owners, players, coaches and staff are absolutely appalled by the nature and level of disgusting abuse directed at Tom Curry and his family in relation to an incident in the England v South Africa World Cup semi-final,” the post on X, formerly Twitter, read.

“Everyone at the club stands fully and proudly behind Tom and we look forward to welcoming him back to Carrington.”

Sale’s director of rugby Alex Sanderson told the Daily Telegraph: “I don’t understand how what someone does on the rugby field causes them to receive threats.

“It is disgusting. It is out of order. I am not on social media for this very reason.”