England prop Joe Marler has been handed a 10-week suspension for an act of foul play on Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones last weekend.
Marler was cited after making bizarre contact with Jones’ groin area in the past weekend’s Six Nations clash, which England went on to win 33-30.
An independent citing commissioner deemed that Marler had infringed Law 9.27 (acts against the spirit of good sportsmanship) and that the incident met the threshold for a red card:
‘Punishment for a grabbing, squeezing or twisting the testicles of a player starts at 12 weeks at a lower end under Law 9.27, which governs bad sportsmanship.’
Marler accepted that he had committed an act of foul play, but denied that he had grabbed, twisted or squeezed the genitals of the Welsh lock and did not accept that the incident warranted a red card.
A disciplinary committee comprising David Hurley (Ireland), Sarah Smith (Scotland) and Stefan Terblanche (South Africa) heard evidence from Marler and his legal representative as well as from a Six Nations representative.
The committee decided that Marler had committed an act of foul play and that it did warrant a red card, therefore upholding the citing commissioner’s complaint.
They deemed the incident warranted a low-end entry point of 12 weeks, reducing that by three weeks for mitigating factors including Marler’s remorse and good character. However, the ban was increased by a week due to Marler’s recent disciplinary record, leaving him with a 10-week ban.
On the current playing schedule, Marler will be free to play from 8 June.
Meanwhile, Marler’s teammate and centre Manu Tuilagi, who was red-carded for a head-high shoulder charge on Welsh wing George North received a four-week ban.
England lock Courtney Lawes, who was also cited for a dangerous tackle, escaped without any further punishment.
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