Joe Marler cited for genital grab on Alun Wyn Jones

Written by Rhys Jones
Sub-edited by Samir Abraham

Image credit: Charlie via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Rugby Union continued its craziest year in recent memory during England’s 33-30 win over Wales at Twickenham on Saturday and despite everything else going on, one moment has dominated rugby headlines the past few days – Joe Marler’s senseless grab of Wales Captain Alun Wyn Jones’ testicles.

During a scuffle between the two teams, cameras caught Marler squeezing Jones’ privates, who smiled in direction of the touchline cameras, meaning the action in jest and a likely attempt to wind up the Welshman and to try to coax a reaction out of him.
Jones did well to constrain himself and not react, something which could easily have landed the Welsh captain with just as much scrutiny that Marler is currently facing. Who is now to be cited for the incident.

Marler has always cultivated himself as a ‘rugby character’, he loves living on the edge and playing the wind-up merchant. And whilst characters are something the game needs more of. Marler’s latest attempt at ‘banter’ is not the kind of behaviour the game needs.

Many have taken to Twitter to defend Marler, claiming he did no physical damage to Jones, which is obvious, to say the least. Whilst many on the other side of the fence have labelled Marler’s act as sexual assault.

But you need only look at Alun Wyn Jones’ post-match interview and his take on the situation. Amid the embarrassing giggles of journalists in the room, Jones called for World Rugby look at the incident and was frustrated at the lack of the use of the Television Match Official at the time. Jones simultaneously downplayed the sexual assault of the situation;

‘’It’s very easy to make sport a vehicle for a lot of political and social issues,  I think there’s a gravitas for a lot of people to do that in this day and age and that’s a dangerous thing as well as a real thing that’s important’.

The English prop can expect a 12-week ban as an entry point for his grope on Alun Wyn Jones. Which usually gets reduced to somewhere between 2-6 weeks depending on past misdemeanours and how players conduct themselves during the hearing process.

It is difficult to know how to handle this situation, rugby is a contact sport and so many incidents happen in each match, and so many incidents are missed. But it’s up to World Rugby to make an example of this, and ensure it’s not passed up as just a ‘rugby incident’ as so many are calling it. Ultimately Marler’s act was an attempt at humour that was devoid of common sense and will justifiably be sanctioned.

Alongside his joker image, Marler has garnered a considerable track record of wrongdoings on the pitch.

In April 2016 he was handed a two-week ban and a £20k fine for his ‘Gypsy Boy’ remark at Wales prop Samson Lee. In his first match back from that ban he was given another two-week ban for kicking Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy in the head during a European Challenge Cup semi-final between Harlequins and Grenoble.
Marler played his part in one of Rugby’s most infamous incidents during a Premiership match between Harlequins and London Wasps in 2017. Marler sprayed England teammate James Haskell in the face with a water bottle, prompting Haskell to lash out at Marler and earn himself a yellow card.

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