World Rugby step-in to investigate Joe Marler verbal abuse

World Rugby has announced England prop Joe Marler will face an independent misconduct hearing for verbally abusing Wales' Samson Lee.

Marler had escaped punishment from the Six Nations for calling the Wales prop "gypsy boy" during England's 25-21 victory at Twickenham on March 12 but World Rugby has deemed action should have been taken.

A statement from the governing body read: "World Rugby has confirmed that England's Joe Marler will face an independent World Rugby misconduct hearing for comments made towards Wales' Samson Lee during the RBS 6 Nations match at Twickenham on March 12.

World Rugby step-in to investigate Joe Marler verbal abuse

"World Rugby is of the view that the comments amount to misconduct and/or a breach of the code of conduct under World Rugby Regulation 20 and should have been considered by an independent process.

"In the absence of such a process by Six Nations Rugby, World Rugby is exercising its right to take appropriate action before an independent judicial committee.

"The RFU (the player's union) and Six Nations Rugby have been informed and the case will be heard by an independent judicial committee as soon as practically possible. Details will be announced in due course and the player is free to continue playing in the interim."

Marler apologised to Lee for the insult at half-time and was subsequently reprimanded by England head coach Eddie Jones, but the decision not to sanction him was met by an outcry.

The Welsh Rugby Union released a statement saying: "We stand by our belief that there is no place for the use of racist language in sport.''

World Rugby stepped in and if Marler is found guilty at the independent hearing he could still face a suspension.

Verbal abuse of a player based on religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or otherwise carries an entry-point sanction of four weeks.

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