Joe Marler: England prop banned for 10 weeks for genital grab

England prop Joe Marler has been given a 10-week ban for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones' genitals during Saturday's Six Nations win over Wales.

Centre Manu Tuilagi has been banned for four weeks for his red card late on in the game at Twickenham.

Lock Courtney Lawes, who was cited for a dangerous tackle, has escaped punishment.

The decisions were made by an independent citing commissioner at a disciplinary hearing in Dublin.

The shortest ban under World Rugby rules for "grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals" is 12 weeks, though the commission reduced that by three weeks to take account of mitigating factors, including good character and remorse.

However, they also increased the ban by one week after taking into account Marler's recent disciplinary record.

Tuilagi was shown a red card for a last-ditch tackle on George North in the 75th minute of England's 33-30 victory.

The disciplinary panel found the offence was worthy of a six-week ban, reduced by two weeks after taking into account mitigating factors.

The panel also ruled that Lawes' tackle on Jones during the first half at Twickenham was not worthy of a suspension.

England lead the table on points difference from France, who failed in their Grand Slam bid with defeat by Scotland on Sunday.

Wales' match against Scotland is the only match scheduled to go ahead this weekend after the Italy v England and France v Ireland fixtures were postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

Organisers say no immediate decision will be made regarding rescheduling while the coronavirus situation is ongoing.

'No malice' in Marler incident

England and Harlequins team-mate Danny Care says Marler was not being malicious and the incident should be seen as a "bit of banter".

"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," Care told the Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

"You know he hasn't gone out there to annoy anyone or anger anyone or disrespect anyone. He's done it in Joe's way of being Joe.

"Alun Wyn Jones is a team-mate of his from the Lions - I'm pretty sure they're mates. The scuffle has broken out, Joe's tried to make light of it and do what he's done on Alun Wyn Jones.

"When I saw it, I just thought it was two lads messing around who were good mates but I can completely understand the massively split reaction.

"Out of the context of sport and as a bit of banter it obviously isn't funny. You put that in any other place of work and there's going to be some serious repercussions from it.

"I think anyone involved in rugby, things like that are seen as a joke. It's seen as a bit of banter. I don't see an awful lot wrong with it."

Wales coach Wayne Pivac said Marler's actions sends out a poor message to young players.

"There's no place for that in the game," he said. "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."

Harlequins head of rugby Paul Gustard says it received a disproportionate amount of media attention compared to other incidents which he believes are more serious, including France's Mohammed Haouas' red card for throwing a punch at Scotland's Jamie Ritchie at Murrayfield on Sunday.

"The furore over this incident doesn't seem to be mirrored in the same amount of media coverage and people talking about the French kid (Haouas) that could have broken someone's jaw with a punch," Gustard said.

"Or a vicious tackle with no arms. Or whatever. That's the frustration for me because the safety of players is paramount."

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