Rugby | Jones slams Welsh 'surprise' at Marler verdict

Bagshot – England coach Eddie Jones said Wales “don’t know if they’re Arthur or Martha”, after the Welsh Rugby Union expressed surprise at Joe Marler escaping disciplinary action following last week’s Test at Twickenham.

Harlequins loosehead prop Marler was finally given the all-clear for this Saturday’s match away to France, where England will be bidding for a Grand Slam, on Wednesday after disciplinary officials decided to take no action against him for striking Rob Evans and calling Samson Lee a “gypsy boy” during two separate incidents in England’s 25-21 win over Wales.

Prior to the announcement by Six Nations chiefs that Marler would not face any disciplinary action, Wales coach Warren Gatland apologised Wednesday for originally labelling his comments to Lee as “banter”, although the player himself had no qualms over the New Zealander’s original stance.

But on Thursday, the WRU responded to the lack of action against Marler by issuing a statement saying: “We are surprised by the decision of the Six Nations disciplinary hearing.

“We stand by our belief that there is no place for the use of racist language in sport.

“Clearly this incident has raised broader issues for the game of rugby which require follow up and which we are undertaking directly with Six Nations.”

But Jones, speaking at a press conference at England’s training base in Bagshot, south-west of London, on Thursday said: “As I said on Monday, we’ve let it run its course. The findings have been made and we just run with those findings.

“If you look at the Wales statement from Wednesday, they don’t know whether they’re Arthur or Martha.”

The Australian added: “There’s been a decision made and we’ll run with that decision. That’s why we have these committees.”

Marler has been dropped to the bench for the France match, with Mako Vunipola starting in his place.

But Jones said this was a tactical change, not a disciplinary measure.

“It’s because it’s the way we want to play on the weekend,” he explained. “I’m not punishing him at all.”

Jones had previously reprimanded Marler and reminded him of his responsibilities, with the front row himself saying Wednesday: “I have been warned very clearly by Eddie Jones how comments like this are unacceptable.”

Pressed on at Thursday’s news conference over whether Marler had in fact been reprimanded, an increasingly annoyed Jones said: “I’ve said all that. You need to read the stuff I said on Monday. If you want me to say it again, I’ll say it again.

“I spoke to Joe about the situation and said it was inappropriate.”

Asked whether Marler had been fortunate to escape censure, with the WRU implying his comments were in fact racist, Jones said: “At one time yesterday (Wednesday) they didn’t (think it was racist) and now they do. They’re allowed to do that.

“I’ve said what I have to say on it. We have got a Grand Slam in front of us.

“A Grand Slam is much more interesting than something that happened seven days ago that’s been well and duly discussed.”

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