Some People Are Calling for Joe Marler to Be Banned After 'Sexual Assault' on Alun Wyn Jones

Edward Cooper
Photo credit: Charlotte Wilson/Offside - Getty Images

From Men's Health

It doesn't take someone with a degree in Rugby Union to know that one of the most anticipated matches on the sport's calendar is that of England versus Wales.

Every year, at the Six Nations tournament, the meeting of the two teams always sparks a fiery clash between the old rivals and, with temperaments running sky-high, clashes usually punctuate the annual 80-minute fixture. This year, however, during England's fourth match in the 2020 Six Nations tournament, something entirely different happened: England prop Joe Marler was shown grabbing the genitals of Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Bizarrely, Harlequins' Marler — who would later call the media noise surrounding his act "...Complete bollocks" on Twitter — wasn't caught by the referee. Now facing a potential ban for his actions, the footage of Marler is damning and, as the current climate would dictate, has led to furore, with everyone from Piers Morgan ("I think the whole thing was funny!") to Gareth Thomas (“It would never have happened during my day") weighing in.

Currently, the low-end entry point for twisting, grabbing or squeezing another player's genitals in World Rugby laws is a 12-week ban. A mid-range entry point is 18 weeks and the maximum currently sits at 208 weeks.

Photo credit: Charlotte Wilson/Offside - Getty Images

Speaking after the match, Wales captain Jones said of the incident: "I’ve got 138 Tests for my country. If I react, I get a red card. It’s tough, isn’t it?

"Hopefully World Rugby have a look at it. Joe’s a good bloke, lots of things happen on a rugby field... It’s difficult as a captain these days because you can’t speak to a ref about anything, it feels."

That said, the incident has sparked debate about how seriously it should be taken, with parallels being drawn between Marler and Vinnie Jones, who grabbed a then-young Paul Gascoigne's penis during a match between Newcastle United and Wimbledon. Despite this, the pair have since become 'good friends' and speak about the incident in a jovial attitude.

Which brings about the question — are acts like Marler's and Jones' part of sports fiery heart, where testosterone and egos are never far, or is it an outdated and garish part of competition that needs to be nixed ASAP?

Currently, the jury's out on it and, whichever camp you're in, we're likely to see far more incidents that are similar to that of Joe Marler and Vinny Jones in professional sport.

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