Harlequins star Marler cited after Jones incident

Joe Marler has been cited for his unseemly grab at the genitals of Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones in Saturday’s Six Nations win.

The 29-year-old Harlequins forward will face a disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Thursday and could be banned for anything between 12 and 24 weeks for “grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals,” according to rugby’s code of conduct.

Marler’s deed had prompted Jones to call for action. Officials did not notice the alleged offence, although cameras left Marler needing to answer questions.

The ‘Enfant Terrible’ of the side may have acted with intent to provoke a red-card reaction rather than injure his illustrious Lions opponent, who has 138-caps for his country.

Video footage exists of Marler giving a similar, apparently playful tweak to the nether regions of Quins team-mate Alex Dombrandt in the dressing rooms during a post-match victory celebration.

But Marler still faces sanction for an offence that would have earned a yellow card at least from New Zealand referee Ben O’Keefe, had it been seen.

It is unfortunate that the incident will overshadow another excellent contribution from the loose-head prop, who along with Quins team-mate Kyle Sinckler have helped create a formidable front row for the England scrum to work with under new forwards coach Matt Proudfoot.

He was earning his 71st cap in the 33-30 victory which has given England a shot at claiming the Six Nations crown this year at some stage – assuming their delayed match against Italy in Rome does eventually get played once the coronavirus crisis subsides.

Marler’s reboot from 10 months of international retirement took him all the way to the Rugby World Cup final in Japan last year, and he has been an outstanding success for his country – a source of great pride for Quins, who have traditionally provided far more players for England squads than the two who are currently there.

When England boss Eddie Jones overlooked long-serving Red Rose players Mike Brown and Danny Care, having already cast aside former England skipper Chris Robshaw, the west Londoners’ supply line to the national side across the A316 suddenly became very modest.

Marler, who captained Harlequins in the 2014/15 season, has played 202 times for his club and made appearances for the Lions in the 2017 tour of New Zealand.