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28th Dec 2022

“Piss poor from me” – Joe Marler offers apology after Jake Heenan comment sparks brawl

Patrick McCarry

The England loosehead has previous in the ‘banter’ department.

Harlequins and England prop Joe Marler has offered Jake Heenan an apology after a comment directed at the Bristol back-row sparked a brawl in Tuesday’s Premiership encounter.

Bristol Bears pulled off a superb, gritty win over Harlequins, the 2020/21 Premiership champions, at The Stoop to climb off the bottom of the Premiership table.

The game was played in squalid conditions and Pat Lam’s side needed a last-gasp tap tackle from AJ MacGinty, and great covering from scrumhalf Tom Whiteley, to claim victory:

Joe Marler comments spark melée

Earlier in the game, Joe Marler had kicked off a mini brawl when he directed comments towards Jake Heenan as both sides were setting up for a scrum.

It is believed that Marler made a reference about Heenan’s mother as referee Karl Dickson’s microphone picked up the former Connacht star telling him, “Karl, Karl, my mum is in hospital.”

Players from both sides got involved to keep Heenan and Marler apart, after the Bristol star had initially shoved the prop.

‘I have never seen Jake like that’ – Pat Lam

Following the 15-12 Bristol victory, Pat Lam spoke to ITV about the incident:

“I brought Jake over from New Zealand to Connacht and to Bristol. He’s like a son to our family and I have never seen him like that.

“It’s best to say one of the areas we are all trying to work on is the spirit of the game. I love Joe Marler but something was said and there was a reaction from Jake I have never seen before.

“We are all custodians of the game – players, coaches – and one thing we all value and we all work hard to keep is the right values and spirit. Jake reacted to something that was said. That’s all I know what happened.”

It has been reported by Rugbypass that Joe Marler twice made disparaging comments, directed at Heenan, in which he suggested his mother was a sex worker.

Heenan, who helped Connacht to the PRO12 title in 2016, has spoken openly about his troubled upbringing in New Zealand. He was arrested four times before he was 18 and spent a period of his teenage years homeless before he found direction, and support, through rugby. During his time with the province, he did volunteer work with Dóchas don Óige, in Galway, which helps young offenders and troubled youths.

Steven Luatua, a Bristol teammate of Heenan, tweeted, ‘I only found out [what Joe Marler said] on the way home. You and I would’ve done the same. That was absolute bulls**t from Marler.’

The Kiwi then sought an apology from Marler, via Twitter, and the England international responded:

‘Yep. You’re right. I’m sorry Jake Heenan. Piss poor from me. Owe you a pint/coffee in the new year.’

Joe Marler could now pick up a ban over his comments to Jake Heenan.

Back in 2016, Marler was sanctioned, but escaped a playing ban, for referring to Wales prop Samson Lee as ‘gypsy boy’.

A year later, he baited James Haskell into a fight by splashing water in his face. Haskell was yellow-carded for the incident while Marler played on.

In the past 10 seasons, the 32-year-old has received 13 yellow cards and a (2018) red card against Sale Sharks.

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