England scrum-half Danny Care insists Joe Marler was being mischievous rather than malicious when grabbing Alun Wyn Jones’ testicles at Twickenham on Saturday.
Marler must appear before a disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Thursday when he could be sanctioned with a twelve-week ban for the incident that happened early in the 33-30 Guinness Six Nations victory over Wales.
It appeared to be a playful act that Jones theatrically attempted to draw to the attention of officials, but the Welsh captain later made it clear he wanted the incident reviewed.
Care, Marler’s long-term Harlequins team-mate, insists it needs to be put into context. “If you know Joe and you’ve played with him or spent a lot of time with him, you know he hasn’t done it in a malicious way,” Care told the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast.
“You know he hasn’t gone out there to annoy anyone or anger anyone or disrespect anyone. He’s done it in Joe’s way of being Joe.
“Alun Wyn Jones is a team-mate of his from the Lions – I’m pretty sure they’re mates. The scuffle has broken out, Joe’s tried to make light of it and do what he’s done on Alun Wyn Jones.
“When I saw it, I just thought it was two lads messing around who were good mates but I can completely understand the massively split reaction.
“Out of the context of sport and as a bit of banter it obviously isn’t funny. You put that in any other place of work and there’s going to be some serious repercussions from it.
“I think anyone involved in rugby… things like that are seen as a joke. It’s seen as a bit of banter. I don’t see an awful lot wrong with it.”
– Press Association
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.