Six Nations

Marler banned for 'gypsy boy' comment

Joe Marler (AFP)
Joe Marler (AFP)

London - England's Joe Marler was given a two-game ban and fined £20,000 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 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 Marler and that prompted World Rugby to step in.

"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 (Tuesday)," said a World Rugby statement.

It added Marler, who had admitted the misconduct charge "in its entirety", would be free to resume playing on April 18 and had the right of appeal.

Marler's comments became public knowledge because he was speaking near a miked-up referee.

The World Rugby hearing, which analysed the broadcast feed, ruled that Marler had used "unsporting and discriminatory language" towards Lee and that he had also breached their code of conduct and "brought the game into disrepute".

But it also ruled that Marler was "proactive in apologising to Lee at half-time during the match and that he subsequently issued a public and unreserved apology for his comments" and that he was a "person of good character", with no other similar misconduct charges behind him.

Marler said on Monday he would accept whatever punishment was imposed by the three-man panel of Australia's Terry Willis (chairman), France's Jean-Nol Couraud (France) and Canada's Alan Hudson.

"I'm not a racist," Marler tweeted on Monday. "What I said to Samson was out of order and wrong and I am sorry it was said, we shook hands at the end of the game and looked to move on.

"Whatever happens to me tomorrow I will accept," the 25-year-old prop added.

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