Marler escapes with two-week ban after insulting opponent's mum

Marler escapes with two-week ban after insulting opponent's mum

December 31, 2022

Joe Marler escapes with just an initial two-week ban despite being charged with insulting an opponent’s hospital-bound mum… keeping the Harlequins prop’s Six Nations hopes with England alive

  • Joe Marler started a fracas in Harlequins’ Premiership match against Bristol 
  • It emerged that the prop, 32, insulted the mother of Bears forward Jake Heenan
  • He has received an initial ban of just two weeks for his unsportsmanlike actions
  • It represents a lucky escape for Marler, whose Six Nations hopes are still alive

Joe Marler has had a lucky escape and his Six Nations hopes are still alive after his latest brush with controversy saw him banned for an initial period of just two weeks.

Harlequins and England prop Marler started a fracas in his team’s defeat by Bristol on December 27 when he insulted the mother of Bears forward Jake Heenan. 

Heenan – whose mother is in hospital – reacted instantly, leading to both teams coming together in a mini brawl.

Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler (above) has had a lucky escape after only receiving an initial two-week ban for insulting Bristol Bears forward Jake Heenan’s hospital-bound mother

Marler’s comments sparked a brawl between Quins and Bears in their clash on December 27

Marler described his comments to Heenan as ‘p*** poor’ – but his latest brush with controversy has only seen him punished with a fortnight’s ban, meaning his Six Nations hopes are still alive

June 2009: Prior to becoming a senior professional, Marler was sent off in action for England’s Under-20 side in a meeting with Japan.

April and September 2011: Receives bans of two weeks and three weeks respectively for fighting and hitting an opponent on Premiership duty for Harlequins.

March 2016: Four years into his Test career with England, Marler causes outrage by calling Wales opponent Samson Lee ‘gypsy boy’ in a Six Nations match. He is banned for two weeks and fined £20,000.

April 2016: In his first match back after the Lee ban, Marler kicks Grenoble’s Arnaud Héguy in the head in a European Challenge Cup semi-final. Is banned for another two weeks.

June 2016: Refers to former Australia coach Bob Dwyer as a ‘w*****’ on Twitter. Receives a formal warning from his England rugby bosses.

September and October 2017: Squirts water at his England team-mate James Haskell in a clash between Harlequins and Wasps. Not banned on that occasion but is a month later for striking Will Rowlands.

January 2018: Another ban, this time for six weeks.

March 2020: Mammoth 10-week ban for grabbing the testicles of Alun Wyn Jones in England’s Six Nations meeting with Wales at Twickenham.

December 2022: Found guilty of conduct prejudicial to rugby after abusing Bristol’s Jake Heenan and making fun of his hospital-bound mum. Banned for an initial two weeks. 

Marler accepted the charge of conduct prejudicial to rugby brought against him at an RFU disciplinary hearing on Friday night.

It decided he should be banned for six weeks in total but with four weeks suspended until the end of next season.

RFU panel chair Gareth Graham said: ‘The player accepted 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.’

Marler apologised to Heenan both online and in person for his comments, which he described on Twitter as ‘p*** poor.’ 

Given Marler’s poor disciplinary history, it is surprising he has escaped with just an initial fortnight’s suspension.

It means he will be able to be a part of England’s squad for the 2023 Six Nations, should be selected by new head coach Steve Borthwick.

In 2016, Marler, 32, called Wales prop Samson Lee ‘gypsy boy’.

While in 2020, was suspended for 10 weeks for grabbing another Wales player in Alun Wyn Jones by the testicles.

His poor record was taken into account by the RFU who were also aware of Marler’s apology to Heenan and his remorse at his actions.

The RFU added in a statement: ‘In all the circumstances of the case, the panel concluded a ban of six weeks was proportionate but that it was also appropriate to suspend part of that sanction.

‘The panel found that an immediate ban of two weeks should be imposed and that the remaining four-week ban should be suspended until the end of the 2023/24 season (and may be activated should the player commit a similar offence).

‘The panel require the player to give a presentation to a local club or school, and to a Premiership academy, on the core values of the game.’ 

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