English players' union claim there's a witch-hunt over Joe Marler's 'gypsy boy' comment 6 years ago

English players' union claim there's a witch-hunt over Joe Marler's 'gypsy boy' comment

The RPA have fired with both barrels here.

The English Rugby Players' Association have weighed in strongly after World Rugby set a date for a hearing over the use of a racial slur by England prop Joe Marler.

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The Harlequins man called Wales counterpart Samson Lee 'gypsy boy' during the sides' recent Six Nations clash, but escaped sanction by a disciplinary committee after apologising to Lee and expressing further public remorse for the incident.

However, World Rugby officials have disagreed with that leniency, and Marler now faces being suspended at a hearing due to take place next Tuesday.

RPA chief Damian Hopley has responded to that charge with a full-blooded attack on World Rugby, accusing them of bowing to an "excruciating media witch-hunt", while also labelling Marler a victim "of double jeopardy".

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However, Hopley undermines his case somewhat by insisting that these incidents "no place in rugby", yet contends that "it is now time to draw a line and move on".

The full statement reads: "Now that the World Rugby hearing date has finally been set, three weeks since the matter was concluded by the Six Nations, it is important to place on record how we have watched the events around this ongoing disciplinary process unfold in a state of disbelief.

"As people throughout the game know, Joe is no racist. He made a comment when provoked and is now being hung out to dry in this excruciating media witch hunt whilst World Rugby have intervened against the RFU and the Six Nations.

"To put Joe in this position after he apologised to the opposition player, admitted his error of judgement and also received a severe rebuke from the RFU and the tournament smacks of double jeopardy.

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"Everyone recognises there is no place in the game for these provocations but let's be absolutely clear, Joe is not racially motivated and this matter should have been closed when it was originally dealt with three weeks ago.

"We will be watching the ensuing process extremely carefully but the thought of World Rugby calling for yet another hearing and therefore prolonging this episode defies belief.

"The apology was accepted, Joe held his hand up and it is now time to draw a line and move on."