World Rugby bans Joe Marler for two club games over ‘gypsy boy’ slur

England and Harlequins prop Joe Marler was last night banned for two games after his “gypsy boy” slur against Wales forward Samson Lee during last month’s RBS 6 Nations Championship game at Twickenham.

A three-man independent judicial committee suspended Marler following a hearing in London, World Rugby announced.

He was also fined €25,000 - to be paid to a suitable equality charity - after a misconduct charge against him was upheld. The 25-year-old, who has won 42 caps, had avoided any sanction from Six Nations chiefs and the Rugby Football Union following the March 12 incident, but World Rugby launched independent action.

World Rugby said the misconduct charge was “admitted in its entirety” by Marler.

Marler apologised to Wales prop Lee at half-time in the match on March 12, and he took to Twitter on Monday night, apologising to “anyone who was offended” and that he would accept the World Rugby ruling. He is now banned until April 18, and will miss Quins’ European Challenge Cup quarter-final against London Irish on Saturday, plus an Aviva Premiership appointment with league leaders Saracens at Wembley seven days later.

Marler initially avoided a suspension after Six Nations chiefs judged his remorse, apology at half-time and subsequent admonishing by England as sufficient punishment.

But World Rugby’s decision to launch independent action outlined a level of dissatisfaction with that move, leaving the Six Nations disciplinary process under almost as much scrutiny during the past 24 days as Marler himself.

In a statement issued following what was thought to be a six-hour hearing yesterday, World Rugby said: “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.

“The charge was admitted in its entirety by Marler and upheld by the independent judicial panel comprising Terry Willis (chair, Australia), Jean-Noel Couraud (France) and Alan Hudson (Canada).”

The committee determined that Marler’s breach was serious, and imposed their sanction.

Marler has a right of appeal within seven days of notification of the full written decision.


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