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Players' body says Marler was 'hung out to dry in excruciating media witch hunt'

“As people throughout the game know, Joe is no racist.”

Marler: Will face World Rugby hearing over
Marler: Will face World Rugby hearing over "gypsy boy" comment.
Image: David Davies

THE RUGBY PLAYERS’ ASSOCIATION has released a strong statement in defence of Joe Marler, slamming the “excruciating media witch hunt” against the England prop.

Marler is set to face a misconduct hearing after World Rugby bosses stepped in to investigate a comment he made to Samson Lee during the Six Nations.

Marler called Wales prop Lee a “gypsy boy” before apologising at half-time. He was subsequently dropped by Eddie Jones for England’s Grand Slam decider in France, but World Rugby were unhappy that tournament bosses took no official action and intervened themselves.

That decision has infuriated the RPA who insist that Marler “is no racist” and that it is time to “draw a line and move on.”

“Now that the World Rugby hearing date has finally been set, over three weeks since the matter was concluded by the 6 Nations, it is important to place on the record how we have watched the events around this ongoing disciplinary process unfold in a state of disbelief,” Group CEO Damian Hopley said.

“As people throughout the game know, Joe is no racist. He made a comment when provoked and is now being hung out to dry in this excruciating media witch hunt whilst World Rugby have intervened against the RFU and the 6 Nations.

“To put Joe in this position after he apologised to the opposition player, admitted his error of judgement and also received a severe rebuke from the RFU and the Tournament smacks of double jeopardy.

“Everyone recognises there is no place in the game for these provocations but let’s be absolutely clear, Joe is not racially motivated and this matter should have been closed when it was originally dealt with three weeks ago.

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“We will be watching the ensuing process extremely carefully but the thought of World Rugby calling for yet another hearing and therefore prolonging this episode defies belief.

“The apology was accepted, Joe held his hand up and it is now time to draw a line and move on.”

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Niall Kelly

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