Harlequins prop Joe Marler charged for comments made to Bristol’s Jake Heenan

Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler has been charged for comments made towards Bristol flanker Jake Heenan.

The Rugby Football Union said Marler had been charged under the governing body’s rule 5.12 – conduct prejudicial to the game.

Marler’s comments during the first half of Tuesday’s Gallagher Premiership match reportedly related to Heenan’s mother.

Joe Marler faces a disciplinary hearing
Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler faces a disciplinary hearing after being charged by the Rugby Football Union under Rule 5.12 (David Davies/PA)

Marler will face a disciplinary hearing on Friday afternoon.

The RFU said: “Joe Marler, Harlequins, has been charged under RFU rule 5.12 for conduct prejudicial to the game for comments made to a Bristol Bears player during the match on Tuesday 27 December.

“The hearing will take place at 4.30pm today, Friday 30 December.”

Bristol rugby director Pat Lam
Bristol rugby director Pat Lam says that Jake Heenan “reacted to something that was said” (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A lengthy ban could result from the 32-year-old’s latest brush with rugby’s authorities.

In 2016, Marler received a two-week suspension and was fined £20,000 for calling Wales prop Samson Lee “gypsy boy”, and two years ago he received a 10-week ban for grabbing Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones’ genitals during a Six Nations game.

Speaking immediately after the Quins encounter, Bristol rugby director Pat Lam said: “I brought Jake over from New Zealand to Connacht and to Bristol. He is like a son to our family and I have never seen him like that.

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“It’s best to say one of the areas we are all trying to work on is the spirit of the game. I love Joe Marler, but something was said and there was a reaction from Jake I have never seen before.

“We are all custodians of the game – players, coaches – and one thing we all value and we all work hard to keep is the right values and spirit. Jake reacted to something that was said.”

Marler, meanwhile, has been named on the replacements’ bench for Quins’ Premiership clash against Northampton on Sunday, with Fin Baxter taking over from him in the starting line-up.

Speaking ahead of Marler’s hearing, Quins head coach Tabai Matson said: “Clearly, he (Marler) is really apologetic.

Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson
Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson says that Jake Heenan has accepted Joe Marler’s apology (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“He didn’t know the full context of what he said. What he said was wrong. He reached out to Jake and Jake replied and accepted his apology and then they had a good chat after that.

“He has been apologetic to us as well. He is annoyed that he has dragged the club into this kerfuffle.

“He has been apologetic and probably the key thing for me is that Jake accepted his apology.

“Clearly what he said was wrong and he wouldn’t have said it if he knew the full context.”