Joe Marler facing sanction from World Rugby
English prop will face independent hearing following his ‘gypsy boy’ abuse of Samson Lee
Joe Marler will face an independent World Rugby misconduct hearing,
World Rugby has overturned the decision of the Six Nations not to take any action against the England prop Joe Marler for calling the Wales front-rower Samson Lee “Gypsy boy” during the game at Twickenham on March 12th, and ordered an independent disciplinary hearing.
The Harlequins player faces a ban if found guilty, although as he has not been charged under the regulation that governs foul play but under the code of conduct, he is not facing a minimum ban of four weeks and could be fined or reprimanded.
The Rugby Football Union, which the previous day had vigorously defended the player and the decision of the Six Nations not to discipline Marler, was informed by World Rugby before it made its decision public.
World Rugby acted after asking the Six Nations what process it took in deciding not to summon Marler before a disciplinary panel.
“World Rugby is of the view that the comments amount to misconduct and/or a breach of the code of conduct under Regulation 20 and should have been considered by an independent process,” the governing body said in a statement.
“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.”
There has been intense lobbying since it was revealed six days ago that World Rugby, concerned that its regulations had not been followed, in particular that the Six Nations had made the decision in-house rather than putting it in the hands of an independent judicial officer.
It took the Six Nations four full days after the end of the match at Twickenham to decide to take no action other than to verbally reprimand Marler, basing its reasoning in part on the fact that Marler had acted “in the heat of the moment,” something that is not regarded as a defence in an act of foul play or misconduct charge.
Marler apologised to Lee for the insult at half-time and was subsequently reprimanded by the England head coach, Eddie Jones, but the decision not to sanction him was met by an outcry.
Marler has been charged under World Rugby’s Regulation 20, which governs comments made on or off the field that are insulting in nature with the potential to bring the game into disrepute.
They include “acts or statements that are, or conduct that is, discriminatory by reason of religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, disability, colour or national or ethnic origin”.
The sanctions available to the disciplinary panel range from a caution and a reprimand to a fine and a ban. The regulation also contains a note to unions and tournament organisers to ensure that the code of conduct is upheld.
The failure of the Six Nations to comply will have ramifications with World Rugby wanting to know why and demanding systems are put in place to ensure it does not happen again. Guardian Service