English rugby player Joe Marler has been suspended from playing for 10 weeks for groping Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones during their match on March 7.
The incident occurred during a heated tussle during the match that involved several players. Marler appeared to be trying to playing with Jones as the moment began to cool down.
You can see the crotch grab in the video below:
England prop Joe Marler caught on camera grabbing Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones' GENITALS during on-field melee in Six Nations clash at Twickenham..
Hang on thats just not cricket! pic.twitter.com/dNfvQa2GxF
— D.N.S. (@DubaiNameShame) March 8, 2020
At a press conference after the match, Jones was calm but called on the powers that be to weigh in on the episode.
🏉 Alun Wyn Jones on the Marler incident pic.twitter.com/YleT7Cw1VL
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) March 7, 2020
Appearing before an independent disciplinary committee, Marler admitted he committed an act of foul play but argued the citing that he “grabbed, twisted or squeezed the genitals” of an opponent, according to The Independent.
In the end, though, the committee found him guilty of infringing Law 9.27 (acts against the spirit of good sportsmanship).
A statement from the Rugby Football Union read: “The disciplinary committee found that the act of foul play warranted a low-end entry point (12 weeks’ suspension) and reduced that by three weeks to take account of mitigating factors (including good character and remorse) but increased it by one week to take account of his most recent disciplinary record.
“Marler is therefore suspended for 10 weeks and, given his playing schedule, is free to resume playing on Monday, 8 June 2020. He was reminded of his right of appeal.”
It’s worth noting, however, England’s final game against Italy in Rome has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
As I reported last week, the incident received widespread attention as the crotch grab seemed to divide people on whether it was “a bit of banter” or bad sportsmanship.
The coach for the Wales team, Wayne Pivac, told the press he felt the behavior sets a bad example for younger players.
“There’s no place for that in the game,” said Pivac. “We’re all role models for the young players and the next generation of the game, and there are rules in the game. You can’t go outside those rules. If you do, then you face punishment.”
But Marler’s teammate Danny Care told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast, “If you know Joe and you’ve played with him or spent a lot of time with him, you know he hasn’t done it in a malicious way.”
After viewing a video clip of the incident, Care felt the moment was “two lads messing around who were good mates.”
That said, Care admits “Out of the context of sport and as bit of banter it obviously isn’t funny. You put that in any other place of work and there’s going to be serious repercussions from it.”
Folks on Twitter were pretty divided on the subject:
There are now two types of people in the world – those who laughed at this @JoeMarler incident, and those who think he should be arrested.
I'm in the first category.
Those in the second are f*cking exhausting. pic.twitter.com/DEHmkTkQ5a
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) March 8, 2020
While we await the outcome of @JoeMarler ridiculous citing hearing for having a laugh, all eyes turn to whether Dillon Lewis will be joining him for this uninvited tit fondle. pic.twitter.com/z3YQPb399q
— England Rugby Pod 🏴 (@EnglandRugbyPod) March 9, 2020
Imagine if someone touched another man or woman up in the workplace and then someone joked about it on TV. People have admiration for Gareth Thomas with what he’s been through and opened up about but I wonder if something similar was done in a homophobic way he’d joke about it?
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) March 7, 2020
I’m sorry but 10weeks for Joe Marler is ridiculous. The world has gone mad!!!
— mike tindall (@miketindall13) March 13, 2020
Think perspective is needed on @JoeMarler ‘incident’. Surely by just watching the footage we can all see it was not aggressive, did not cause pain. So jumping to all these ludicrous assumptions is just total over-reaction to what was intended to be a humorous wind up.
— Will Carling (@willcarling) March 8, 2020
Let's call this what it is: what Joe Marler did was odd; but if he ends up getting a 12 week ban for it, the World will have gone mad. I've seen horrific tackles (no pun intended)/ dangerous play that's only got 4 or 6 weeks, and there's no way this is twice or 3 times as bad.
— Andrew McKenna (@talkMacca) March 9, 2020
On the Joe Marler incident.. I can’t believe there are people on here defending his actions? It’s sexual assault, 100%. You’d be arrested for groping someone in a nightclub or at a gig, so why on a rugby field is it ok? Culture needs to change, I hope he gets a lengthy ban.
— Charlie Jones (@cjones996) March 10, 2020