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Friday Dec 18, 2020

Lenient ban for testicle grab raises comparisons to the infamous Joe Marler incident

The two-week ban handed to Stade Francais’ Charlie Rorke for an alleged testicle grab at the weekend has been the cause of plenty of confusion online when compared to Joe Marler’s ban earlier this year.

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Rorke was shown red by referee Ben Blain for allegedly grabbing the testicles of Benetton’s Leonardo Sarto, who was also sent off for retaliating. He pleaded not guilty to the charge at an independent EPCR disciplinary hearing this week.

The committee found that the red card was warranted, but rather than agree that the actions of the Stade Francais forward were in contravention of Law 9.27 (a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship) which carries the minimum of a 12-week ban, it was decided that Rorke was guilty of a different offence coming under Law 9.11 (players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others), which has the minimum of a two-week man.

Marler’s ten-week ban for grabbing the genitals of Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones at Twickenham in March is now infamous in the rugby world.

The prop was charged with contravening Law 9.27 and was banned for 12-weeks as a result, which was then reduced.

Although he never actually missed a match due to the suspension of rugby due to Covid-19, there is confusion online as to how these two offences differ.

The debate as to whether Marler’s punishment should have been more or less is a well-trodden path by now, but those on Twitter cannot understand how Rorke can get off so lightly in comparison. Moreover, the players were not even charged for the same offence, despite many struggling to see the difference.

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Of course, it is the disciplinary committee, not the social media universe, that determines the ban length for players, but this one does warrant an explanation.

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