England forward Joe Marler will be free to play rugby when sport returns after the coronavirus shutdown – despite being handed a 10-week ban for squeezing Alun Wyn Jones’ genitals in the Six Nations clash against Wales in March, according to The Times.
While World Rugby disciplinary guidelines indicate each week of the ban must correspond to a meaningful match, the disciplinary panel concluded they were unable to adjust the sanctions in the wake of the pandemic.
The Premiership – the only league in England not to have been ended early – will not resume until at least June 27, meaning Marler can play for club side Harlequins without missing a game.
David hurley, who was also chairman of the panel that handed Manu Tuilagi a four-week ban for his red-card shoulder charge on George North, had written to the Six Nations to ask for the sanctions to be reconsidered in the wake of the pandemic. Tuilagi’s ban expired on April 14 and he is again free to play.
However, another disciplinary panel that considered the case of Mohamed Haouas, the France prop sent off for punching Jamie Ritchie in defeat at Scotland, adjusted his suspension to take into account the meaningful match definition.
Haouas was given a three-week ban but two days later the French Rugby Federation halted all rugby indefinitely.
However, his appeal was upheld without contest by the Six Nations in a bid to create consistency in the process.
Marler joined the Harlequins Academy in 2008 and made his first team debut in the 2009-2010 season, after spending some time on loan to Esher and Worthing.
He played a crucial part in helping Harlequins to claim their first ever Premiership title by starting in their 2011–12 Premiership final victory over Leicester Tigers.
Marler captained Harlequins for the 2014-2015 season, replacing Chris Robshaw due to his commitments as England captain in the 2015 World Cup year.