Joe Marler has found himself in hot water with the RFU after comments he made towards Bristol flanker Jake Heenan resulted in a hearing under Rule 5.12.
Rule 5.12 is classed as conduct prejudicial to the game – and it was Marler’s words reportedly about Heenan’s ill mother which the RFU have taken issue with.
Hard to remember the last time a disciplinary hearing created such a stir on my timeline. The battleground is clearly around what we do & don’t find acceptable for one player to say to another on the pitch and whether that damages the game. Verdict due around 7pm.
— Nick Mullins (@andNickMullins) December 30, 2022
The incident occurred during a scrum and the entire Bristol forward pack were instantly furious with the Harlequins prop’s comments, and Heenan was visibly livid.
Very curious to see if we get to hear what Joe Marler is supposed to have said that kicked this off tonight in #HARvBRI. Jake Heenan clearly furious at something. pic.twitter.com/MlReW4drO4
— James Stafford 🇺🇦 (@jpstafford) December 27, 2022
Following the game, Bristol captain Steven Luatua publicly called out Marler, who then took twitter to apologise and reportedly reached out to Heenan privately.
The hearing took place at 4:30 on 30th December and the RFU decided that Marler will face a 6 week ban, with 4 of those weeks being suspended (can be activated if the player makes a similar offence) – so Marler is currently out for the next 2 games (Northampton and Sale).
The RFU stated “The insulting and offensive comments made by the player were wholly inappropriate; such comments should form no part of the modern game”
Some fans are slightly shocked at the outcome as they agrue that a precedent has now been set as a lot is often said on the rugby field and this could result in a huge number of citings in the future. Either way, as Joe himself said, his comments were “P*** poor”.
If Marler is banned, it will set a very interesting precedent going forward.
If Heenan hadn’t reacted, nothing further would be said. So where does the threshold of ‘offence’ now sit?
Judgement will make an interesting read.
— RugbyInsideLine (@RugbyInsideLine) December 30, 2022
Controversial take@JoeMarler said something that's been said many many times before in the front of a scrum. Not condoning it but are #rfu stamping out all sledging?
— Tim Bond (@TimBond1972) December 30, 2022