Harlequins reaffirm support for Marler


Harlequins have reaffirmed their backing for Joe Marler after the England prop was sanctioned by World Rugby for calling Wales counterpart Samson Lee a "gypsy boy".

Marler initially escaped a suspension from Six Nations officials, having directed the remark at Lee during England's 25-21 victory over Wales at Twickenham on March 12, only for World Rugby to launch their own misconduct hearing.

The 25-year-old, who issued a swift apology to Lee and said earlier this week he would accept any punishment that came his way, was duly banned for two matches and fined £20,000 by rugby union's global governing body.

On Wednesday, Harlequins issued a statement acknowledging World Rugby's verdict.

It read: "The club would like to reaffirm our support for Joe Marler. Joe is a long-serving, first-class and valued member of our squad. He is also a highly influential and important player in terms of his experience and the positive impact he brings to the rest of the squad and the young players coming through the ranks of the academy.

"Joe recognises that he is a role model and takes this position, as a part of his profession, seriously. He has accepted that he made a mistake and has apologised to all those he offended. These actions are in line with the man we know and respect.

"He has always made and will continue to make a positive impression on our supporters and staff.

"Harlequins considers this matter now closed for all parties concerned and will make no further comment."

Marler will miss this weekend's European Challenge Cup tie with London Irish and a Premiership meeting with leaders Saracens at Wembley as a result of his ban.