London - England prop Joe Marler is to face an independent World Rugby misconduct hearing after calling Wales's Samson Lee a "gypsy boy" during the Six Nations international at Twickenham on March 12, the global governing body said Wednesday.
Six Nations officials decided to take no action against Marler for his words to Lee or indeed his striking of Rob Evans during a 25-21 win over Wales and the Harlequins loosehead was cleared to play in last weekend's match against France in Paris, where England clinched the Grand Slam with a 31-21 victory.
The lack of action over Marler's comments to Lee in particular sparked a Twitter storm and the Welsh Rugby Union took the unusual step of saying they were "surprised", adding they would take the matter further with the Six Nations.
Last Thursday, World Rugby said they had "requested further information from the Six Nations in respect of the process that led to its decision" and on Wednesday they issued a statement saying: "World Rugby is of the view that the comments amount to misconduct and/or a breach of the code of conduct under World Rugby Regulation 20 and should have been considered by an independent process.
"In the absence of such a process by Six Nations Rugby, World Rugby is exercising its right to take appropriate action before an independent judicial committee.
"The RFU (the player's national union) and Six Nations Rugby have been informed and the case will be heard by an independent judicial committee as soon as practically possible.
"Details will be announced in due course and the player is free to continue playing in the interim."