Joe Marler: England and Harlequins prop handed six-week suspension, four of which suspended, for comment made in Bristol Bears game

Harlequins prop Joe Marler Credit: Alamy
Harlequins prop Joe Marler Credit: Alamy

Harlequins prop Joe Marler has been handed a six-week ban, four of which suspended, for his comments made in their game against Bristol Bears.

Marler, who accepted a charge of conduct prejudicial to rugby, made the remarks during their Premiership match that reportedly related to Jake Heenan’s mother.

The extra four-week suspension will be activated should the England prop commit a similar offence before the end of next season, while he must also give a presentation to a local club or school, and to a Premiership academy, on the core values of the game.

Comments ‘wholly inappropriate’

Gareth Graham, who chaired the disciplinary panel, said on Friday: “The player accepted that his conduct was prejudicial to the interests of the game.

“As has been said by previous rugby disciplinary panels, rugby’s core values are not empty words or slogans which can be signed up to and then ignored. They are not to be treated as useful bolt-ons dreamt up by a marketing team. They are integral to the game and are what make the game special.

“The insulting and offensive comments made by the player were wholly inappropriate; such comments should form no part of the modern game.

“This offence was charged as a breach of RFU Rule 5.12 and, as such, the panel was not bound by the sanctions table.

“The panel had regard to the entry points for breaches of Law 9.12 (acts of verbal abuse) and of Law 9.27 (acts contrary to good sportsmanship).

“The panel also had regard to the player’s poor disciplinary record (as an aggravating feature), and to the fact he had accepted the charge and had apologised to the Bristol player (as mitigating factors).”

It is the Harlequins veteran’s latest episode with rugby’s authorities as he copped a two-week ban and a £20,000 fine for calling Wales prop Samson Lee “gypsy boy” back in 2016, and two years ago Marler was given a 10-week suspension for grabbing Wales second-row Alun Wyn Jones’ genitals during a Six Nations match.

Marler apologised to Bears flanker Heenan

The disciplinary panel took the player’s chequered history into account but also noted that the England prop had apologised to Bristol Bears flanker Heenan.

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

“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.”

Marler’s suspension means he will miss his club’s upcoming Premiership games against Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks but is available for England’s opening Six Nations clash with Scotland on February 4, should he be selected by head coach Steve Borthwick.

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The article Joe Marler: England and Harlequins prop handed six-week suspension, four of which suspended, for comment made in Bristol Bears game appeared first on Planetrugby.com.