Rugby is a rough game. A thugs game some think. Players like Joe Marler do little to diminish this perception.
England's Marler was recently the subject of mass scrutiny after calling Welsh prop Samson Lee a "Gypsy Boy" in their Six Nations clash. The Harlequins front-rower received a two-match ban for that, even though the RFU and Six Nations organisers overlooked it. Marler was quick to apologise, doing so at half-time and was publicly reprimanded by head coach Eddie Jones in the media. Done and dusted.
Showing remorse for his actions is a sure-fire way to gain forgiveness. Once punishment has been served, the issue should be put to rest, and everyone should get on with the job of playing and enjoying rugby. That is, until, a reoffence.
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The loosehead's fresh controversy comes after he appeared to kick Grenoble's Arnaud Heguy in the head. The hearing is set for Monday, but the video evidence (watch below) is damning enough. If Marler is found guilty, the punishment could be very costly.
As per The Telegraph, the minimum punishment for this type of offence is four weeks, and would place selection in jeopardy but not in peril. A medium punishment is eight weeks and would certainly rule him out of the Australia tour.
Should he be punished, Marler is letting himself, his club and his country down. Himself, because committing another offence so soon after the first creates a very bad image. His club, because as a previous club captain and mainstay of the team he is invaluable to their success. That, and they will need their best players if they are to be victorious in the Challenge Cup and send Conor O'Shea on to the Italy job with one last trophy.
And finally, his country because he was a vital component of England's Grand Slam success. His scrummaging capabilities, however dubious, and defensive clout are the best available to England. Marler would be instrumental in deploying England's new, but traditional, gameplan based on forward superiority. Strong forward play has also long been a weakness of the Wallabies.
Eddie Jones loves his packs to be aggressive, as evidenced by their performances and his choice of Dylan Hartley as captain. Owen Farrell at vice-captain is another example, but the Saracens' man also faces a potential ban after a dangerous tackle at the weekend.
That incident saw the fly-half sin-binned in the Rugby Champions Cup victory over Wasps. If guilty, Farrell too may miss his own European final.
Marler's actions, while along the lines of what Jones wants, have gone too far this time. This time, he has broken that line.