With Joe Marler facing a disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Thursday for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones’ genitals at Twickenham last Saturday, ex-England captain Lewis Moody has urged World Rugby to have calm heads and to avoid having a “trial by social media”.
The prop has been cited for an infringement of law 9.27, which says a player is prohibited from “grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals”.
Marler’s citing relates to an altercation with Wales captain Jones during the first half of the Guinness Six Nations encounter in London.
The low-entry point for infringement is a twelve-week ban, but Moody has stressed in an Instagram post that “it is clear to see this was not an aggressive act to cause harm or an assault. It was a cheeky moment between adversaries who I dare say know each other well”.
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Now the emotion of the weekend has passed. It is clear to see this was not an aggressive act to cause harm or an assault. It was a cheeky moment between adversaries who I dare say know each other well. If anything you can argue @joemarler17 actions defused a potentially volatile situation from getting out of hand. A cheeky gesture meant as such in plane sight of cameras in the knowledge it would be seen as such. I cannot count the number of nut shots I recieved from opponents when walking through a tunnel at the end of a game, all done and recieved with smiles on faces. Please let’s not have trial by social media @worldrugby and instead #calmheadsplease.
The difficulty in this situation is deciding whether Marler should be absolved considering there was no ostensible malicious intent. Many people are in agreement with Moody and hope the case is judged accordingly.
There are equally many who have said that this is not necessarily a rugby matter and must be treated in the same way as it would be if this was in a workplace.
There is a clear divide in opinion in this circumstance, which is why the ex-Leicester flanker does not want the Harlequins forward to be condemned on social media before he has even faced his hearing.
The ex-British and Irish Lion even said that Marler’s “cheeky gesture” may have “defused a potentially volatile situation from getting out of hand”.
Moody also shared from his own experience comparable situations to this one, saying: “I cannot count the number of nut shots I received from opponents when walking through a tunnel at the end of a game, all done and received with smiles on faces.”
The ex-England skipper is not the first former player to defend Marler and will not be the last, but this is uncharted territory given the way the prop committed this act of alleged foul play and it is unclear what the verdict on Thursday will be.
WATCH: The Rugby Pod discusses the Joe Marler incident
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