World Rugby has opened an investigation into the alleged racist slur directed at England flanker Tom Curry by South Africa hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi in Saturday’s World Cup semi-final.

Curry claimed to referee Ben O’Keeffe in the second quarter of the Stade de France clash that he had been called a “white c***” by Mbonambi.

“World Rugby takes all allegations of discriminatory behaviour extremely seriously,” a statement read.

“We can confirm that we are formally reviewing the allegation made by England’s Tom Curry in relation to the use of discriminatory language during the England versus South Africa Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final on Saturday.

Mbongeni Mbonambi and Tom CurryThe alleged incident occurred in the second quarter of the Stade de France clash (Mike Egerton/PA)

“World Rugby will not be making further comment until the conclusion of the process.”

England – who had until Monday morning to lodge an official complaint with the citing officer – have declined to make any comment on the incident but South Africa began their own investigation on Sunday.

Although the alleged racist remark is not audible on the referee microphone, Curry’s subsequent conversation with O’Keeffe can be heard clearly.

“Sir, if their hooker calls me a white c***, what do I do?” the Sale flanker said.

O’Keeffe replied: “Nothing, please. I’ll be on it.”