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Sickening sledge revealed after rugby star’s ban

This article originally appeared on Stuff and is reproduced with permission

Joe Marler, the Harlequins and England prop, was suspended by the RFU for six weeks (with four suspended) after twice calling Bristol Bears back-row Jake Heenan’s mother a wh–e.

Audio from the incident in last week’s match between Harlequins and Bristol has been released on social media following Marler’s ban by the Rugby Football Union.

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In the exchange prior to a scrum before the end of the first half, Marler can be heard saying to Heenan: “I’m clearly not your brother, am I? There’s no way I’m from the same mother as you. Your mum’s a f—–g wh–e.”

Marler’s initial comment is met with no reaction from Heenan, before the prop repeats: “Your mum’s a wh–e”.

Following the second remark a scrap broke out between the two packs of forwards. Heenan was penalized as a result of the fight by referee Karl Dickson, who did not hear Marler’s comments but insisted to Heenan and the Bristol captain, Steven Luatua, that Marler would be punished retrospectively if the comment was picked up over the various broadcast microphones.

Heenan could then be heard over Dickson’s microphone saying: “Karl, my mum’s in hospital with cancer”.

Marler has been immediately banned for Harlequins’ next two Gallagher Premiership matches against Northampton Saints this weekend and Sale Sharks the following week. He could receive a further four-week ban should he commit a similar offense before the end of next season.

Marler has since apologised over social media to Heenan and accepted the charge from the RFU at his hearing that his conduct had been prejudicial to the game, under RFU Rule 5.12.

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Addressing the ban the disciplinary panel chair, Gareth Graham, made clear that rugby’s insistence on core values ​​were not just marketing talk and that as a result Marler had to be punished.

“As has been said by previous rugby disciplinary panels, rugby’s core values ​​are not empty words or slogans which can be signed up to and then ignored. They are not to be treated as useful bolt-ons dreamt up by a marketing team. They are integral to the game and are what make the game special,” Graham said.

“The insulting and offensive comments made by the player were wholly inappropriate; such comments should form no part of the modern game.”

The panel had regard to the player’s poor disciplinary record (as an aggravating feature), and to the fact he had accepted the charge and had apologized to the Bristol player (as mitigating factors).

Speaking ahead of Marler’s hearing, Harlequins head coach Tabai Matson said: “Clearly, he (Marler) is really apologetic. He didn’t know the full context of what he said. What he said was wrong. He reached out to Jake and Jake replied and accepted his apology and then they had a good chat after that.

“He has been apologetic to us as well. He is annoyed that he has dragged the club into this kerfuffle. He has been apologetic and probably the key thing for me is that Jake accepted his apology. Clearly what he said was wrong and he wouldn’t ‘t have said it if he knew the full context.”

Marler’s latest ban takes him to 30 weeks’ worth of suspensions in his career – not including the suspended four weeks as part of his latest ban – dating back to his first offense in April 2011 after he was banned along with Leicester prop Marcos Ayerza for two weeks following a scrap which saw both players sent off.

Marler’s longest ban came in 2020, when he was suspended for 10 weeks after grabbing the genitalia of the Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Harlequins and the RFU were contacted for comment and referred to their initial remarks following the outcome of Marler’s hearing.

Harlequins said: “Harlequins notes the result of Joe Marler’s disciplinary hearing on Friday evening and subsequent suspension. The club will make no further comment at this time and considers the matter closed.”

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