England’s Joe Marler gets two-game ban and stiff fine for ‘gypsy boy’ remark
England’s Joe Marler was given a two-game ban and fined £20,000 (HK$220,000) by a World Rugby misconduct hearing on Tuesday for calling Wales prop Samson Lee a “gypsy boy”, the global governing body said.
Harlequins front-row forward Marler was reprimanded by England coach Eddie Jones for his comment to Lee, who is from a traveller community background, during a 25-21 Six Nations win over Wales at Twickenham last month.
However, Six Nations officials took no disciplinary action against 25-year-old prop Marler, who apologised to Lee during the match – an apology accepted by the Welshman – for the remark they said had been made in the “heat of the moment”.
That prompted a social media outcry and saw World Rugby exercise its authority as the global governing body by stepping in to initiate its own disciplinary action.
“Joe Marler has been suspended for two matches and fined £20,000 to be paid to a suitable equality charity in the UK after an independent judicial committee upheld a misconduct charge against the player at a hearing in London today,” said a World Rugby statement.
It added that the 42-times capped Marler would be free to resume playing on April 18.
He will now miss Harlequins’ European Challenge Cup quarter-final against the London Irish on Saturday and their English Premiership fixture against league leaders Saracens in a London derby at Wembley the following week.
Marler’s comments became public knowledge because he was speaking near a miked-up referee.
The World Rugby hearing, thought to have lasted six hours in all, ruled Marler had used “unsporting and discriminatory language” towards Lee and had “brought the game into disrepute”.
But it also said Marler was “proactive” in apologising to Lee at half-time and that he was a “person of good character”, with no similar misconduct charges behind him.