Joe Marler has run the risk of joining Jack Nowell in the naughty boy’s corner, as he looked to question a refereeing decision made in the match between Bayonne and Exeter Chiefs on Sunday.
Neither player was involved in the clash, as Marler played on Saturday for Harlequins, and Nowell left Exeter last year in favour of Champions Cup holders La Rochelle. But many will remember the hot water that the Cornishman found himself in last year when he questioned the actions of referee Karl Dickson, saying in a Tweet: “I’m actually in shock, like shock shocked. What the hell is happening? That’s one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen. EVER”.
Nowell received a mammoth £10,000 fine for his actions at the time, with RFU panel chair Matthew O’Grady explaining the reason for the punishment: “Respect for match officials – even if we disagree with their decisions, indeed especially if we disagree with their decisions – is a core part of rugby union. It is not a value that we can turn on and off when we choose, “Mr Nowell accepted his tweet, which was viewed many hundreds of thousands of times, was not fair comment and crossed the line of what is acceptable by a person with his considerable status in the game.”
Recently, Nowell has admitted that he still feels bitter about the situation, despite the overwhelming majority of fans supporting him.
Not afraid to make his own feelings known, big character Joe Marler has followed suit with a similar Tweet of his own this afternoon, exclaiming: “Talk about shooting ourselves in the foot – killing our own game!” in relation to a yellow card received by Chiefs player Dafydd Jenkins for a deemed high tackle.
The issue that many, including Joe Marler and former England and Harlequins player Nick Easter have had, is that it is almost impossible for the lock to go any lower.
Check out the tackle below:
Talk about shooting ourselves in the foot – killing our own game! https://t.co/MoMNU8PbTH
— Joe Marler (@JoeMarler) January 22, 2024
Fans have been left exasperated by the decision, with one asking:
“What else is the defender expected to do, he couldn’t get any lower!? Won’t this set the precedent that all shorter players will drop when going into a tackle knowing that the taller player is not going to be able to tackle them?”
Whilst another added:
That must be one of the wrongest yellows I’ve ever seen. Tackler bent at waist and dipped low and attacker crouched. If the ref had any common sense he’d have said “ unfortunate rugby incident “
One fan even went as far to say it makes the matches so difficult to watch now:
“I was talking to my dad about this, games are becoming a tough watch, especially the internationals. It feels like every time a heavy tackle goes in, there is a 3 minute wait while contact is checked. I know players need protection but all these cards are killing it for me.”