Fans Divided On Whether The Incident A ‘Bit Of Banter’ Or Sexual Assault

Joe Marler grabs opposing team player’s junk (screen capture)

English rugby player Joe Marler has been suspended from playing for 10 weeks for groping Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones during their match on March 7.

The incident occurred during a heated tussle during the match that involved several players. Marler appeared to be trying to playing with Jones as the moment began to cool down.

You can see the crotch grab in the video below:

At a press conference after the match, Jones was calm but called on the powers that be to weigh in on the episode.

Appearing before an independent disciplinary committee, Marler admitted he committed an act of foul play but argued the citing that he “grabbed, twisted or squeezed the genitals” of an opponent, according to The Independent. 

In the end, though, the committee found him guilty of infringing Law 9.27 (acts against the spirit of good sportsmanship).

A statement from the Rugby Football Union read: “The disciplinary committee found that the act of foul play warranted a low-end entry point (12 weeks’ suspension) and reduced that by three weeks to take account of mitigating factors (including good character and remorse) but increased it by one week to take account of his most recent disciplinary record.

“Marler is therefore suspended for 10 weeks and, given his playing schedule, is free to resume playing on Monday, 8 June 2020. He was reminded of his right of appeal.”

It’s worth noting, however, England’s final game against Italy in Rome has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Related: Rugby’s Joe Marler Grabs Player’s Junk During Match, Faces Lengthy Suspension

As Instinct reported last week, the incident received widespread attention as the crotch grab seemed to divide people on whether it was “a bit of banter” or bad sportsmanship.

The coach for the Wales team, Wayne Pivac, told the press he felt the behavior sets a bad example for younger players.

“There’s no place for that in the game,” said Pivac. “We’re all role models for the young players and the next generation of the game, and there are rules in the game. You can’t go outside those rules. If you do, then you face punishment.”

But Marler’s teammate Danny Care told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast, “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.”

After viewing a video clip of the incident, Care felt the moment was “two lads messing around who were good mates.”

That said, Care admits “Out of the context of sport and as bit of banter it obviously isn’t funny. You put that in any other place of work and there’s going to be serious repercussions from it.”

Folks on Twitter were pretty divided on the subject:

(source: The Independent)

What do you think?