The long-running saga of England prop Joe Marler’s “Gypsy boy” slur reached a conclusion last night after the Harlequins forward was banned for two matches and fined £20,000 by global governing body World Rugby.
Marler’s punishment was handed out after a near seven-hour disciplinary hearing in London at which the 25-year-old admitted a misconduct charge. He has seven days to appeal the decision.
The sanction means that Marler, who will donate his fine to an equality charity, will miss Harlequins’ European Challenge Cup quarter-final clash against London Irish on Saturday as well as his side’s visit to Premiership leaders Saracens the week after.
World Rugby’s decision came close to a month after Marler made the remarks to Wales prop Samson Lee, who is from a traveller community background, during a Six Nations showdown at Twickenham on 12 March.
Tournament organisers opted against taking any action against Marler, who apologised to Lee during half time of the match in question -- a stance which prompted World Rugby to intervene.
“World Rugby exercised its right to take appropriate action before an independent judicial committee in the absence of such a process by Six Nations Rugby in accordance with its regulations,” read a World Rugby statement last night.
Saracens lock George Kruis, meanwhile, avoided a suspension which would have ruled him out of England’s summer tour of Australia after a Rugby Football Union disciplinary panel last night dismissed his charge of biting.
Kruis was cited for allegedly biting Bath’s David Wilson during the second half of Friday’s clash at the Recreation Ground, an incident which also saw the 30-year-old prop charged with making contact with the eye area of the Saracens forward.
Wilson’s citing was also dismissed which means both players are available for selection with immediate effect.
The recommended minimum ban for a biting offence, if proven, is 12 weeks. Such a sanction would have sidelined Kruis, who was hugely influential during England’s Grand Slam success last month, for the three-Test showdown against the Wallabies in June.