Flanker Courtney Lawes felt his England team-mate Tom Curry was ‘let down’ after he was caught up in a racism storm.
The Sale Sharks openside accused South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi of calling him a ‘white c**t’ during the Rugby World Cup semi-final.
World Rugby investigated but decided that the hooker had no case to answer due to there being “insufficient evidence.”
Mbonambi and Curry have their say
The 25-year-old Englishman duly responded in an interview with the Daily Mail and stood by his initial account of what happened.
Lawes was then asked for his view of the incident on The Good, The Bad and The Rugby podcast.
Presenter Alex Payne queried whether Curry had been “let down” and the Northampton Saints forward said: “I do because he will know it was said to him.
“We’re not stupid. If people are running around saying ‘wit kant’ or whatever they’re saying has been said, that’s completely different to when someone looks in your eyes and tells you something.”
Lawes also stated that there’s been other incidents involving “him (Curry) and other lads in the team.”
He referred to the spat in November 2022, where Mbonambi was accused of saying the same slur to Curry, but did not specify what the others were and that they were “just one-offs”.
The ex-England flanker added: “I don’t know what’s happened, I wasn’t there at the time, I didn’t see it and I didn’t know what was going on until a day later when it all came out.
“Look, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that was the case (that a racial slur was used). I’m not saying it is, I’m not saying it isn’t, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
“Regardless, Cuz has a right to say what has happened.”
Curry received a torrent of online abuse in the wake of that saga, with South African supporters threatening him and his family.
Lawes spoke to the openside after the allegation was revealed and gave him advice on how to deal with the situation.
“Cuz is a really good bloke but he can struggle with stuff like that sometimes,” he said.
“I spoke to him the day after and I just said: ‘look, you know what happened. You’ve said to the ref: ‘he’s called me this’,’ and that’s that.
“Essentially, that’s all you’ve got to do. You haven’t got to say you have an opinion about what’s happened. You haven’t got to say you feel offended or feel this way or that way.
“Just say what’s happened, state your case and then leave it to whoever wants to take it up. You don’t have to worry about it.
“I was just like, ‘mate, just park it. You don’t have to say a thing other than what has happened to you’.”