Joe Marler’s decision to take Alun Wyn Jones’ genitals in hand might prove to be a very costly error in judgment on his part.
Social media has been divided on this issue. Many have stated that his actions are unacceptable in modern society. Others feel that it was just a little piece of gamesmanship. In reality though, a line has to be drawn between what is acceptable and what is not. In no other profession in the world will touching another person’s genitals be regarded as “part of the game” or “gamesmanship”.
In a world where more and more cases of sexual abuse and inappropriate touching are being revealed and children have to be taught what is acceptable or not, an international sportsman thinking he can get away with inappropriately touching a competitor’s genitals under the scrutiny of over a dozen cameras is delusional. Some have defended Marler’s action by saying “What about Mohammed Haouas’ punch?”, or “What about that high tackle?”. What cannot be ignored though is that acts of foul play cannot be compared to an act that invades another player’s personal space and by its very nature has a sexual overtone.
Joe Marler cited
World Rugby has taken the view that there is a case to be heard and has cited Marler. He will face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday to explain his actions. Based on what is on record, he will have a difficult time talking his way out of his current predicament.
What is in the rugby laws?
This is where it gets a little tricky for Marler. Law 9.27 covers this kind of action and the sanction is significant. The low-end ban is 12 weeks if he is found guilty. The question is where would World Rugby pitch this offense? It was more than a little obvious and he cannot claim accidental contact in his defense. He has previous sanctions on his record, so even if the offense is regarded as at the low-end of the scale, he would not get a relaxation on any ban.
|Grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals (and/or breasts in the case of female players)||Low-end:
World Rugby has done a lot of work to remove foul play and high tackles out of the game. This incident could prove pivotal in creating a precedent that any future cases would be measured against.
Was it his first time targetting a competitor’s genitals?
The clip below would certainly not help Marler in his defense. Some may regard this type of action as funny, until it happened to them or someone close to them. Some have thrown the word “snowflake” at those who have spoken out against the incident. World Rugby might have the last word on Thursday. It is difficult to see Marler escaping a significant ban after this incident. The offense and the sanction for it is clearly recorded in World Rugby’s Laws of the game.
— Adrian Slabbert (@adrian_slabbert) March 9, 2020
Joe Marler cited
Whatever your personal opinion is of the incident, we have to consider what World Rugby’s responsibility is here. Doing nothing is surely not an option and will have to lay down a marker to show what is acceptable in the game and what is not. That marker may just be Joe Marler.