London - England's Joe Marler will face a
World Rugby misconduct hearing after he called Wales's Samson Lee a "gypsy
boy", the global governing body announced on Monday.
Six Nations officials decided to take no
action against Marler for his words to Lee, which they said came "in the
heat of the moment" or indeed his striking of Rob Evans during a 25-21
Championship win over Wales at Twickenham on March 12.
England coach Eddie Jones reprimanded
Marler and that was sufficient for the Australian's bosses at the Rugby
Marler then took part in England's Grand
Slam-clinching 31-21 win against France in Paris the following weekend,
although he could now receive a retrospective ban.
The lack of disciplinary action prompted
World Rugby to intervene, saying that in the absence of such a process by the
Six Nations it was exercising its right to take "appropriate action"
before an independent judicial committee.
Confirmation of that action came on Monday,
with a brief statement saying: "World Rugby can confirm that the Joe
Marler misconduct hearing is scheduled to take place on 5 April in London.
"The case will be heard by an
independent judicial committee, assembled by the independent judicial chairman
in accordance with World Rugby Regulation 18.
"The committee will comprise Terry
Willis (chair, Australia), Jean-Nol Couraud (France) and Alan Hudson
The row over Marler's conduct had
previously taken a new twist when the England prop's club Harlequins said he
was called a "four-letter word" during the Wales match.
Further footage released over the weekend
appeared to show Marler telling Lee, who is from a travelling community
background, to "get back to your caravan".
But Harlequins director of rugby Conor
O'Shea told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper on Sunday: "I know Joe and
whatever has gone on, Joe is not in any way, shape or form racist."
Marler apologised to Lee during the match,
with the Welshman making clear he had accepted the apology.
But O'Shea, who will coach Italy next
season, revealed Marler had been on the receiving end as well.
"It would be fair to say that there
were a couple of things said to him with words that you can't use but such is
life," he said.
"Posh, English and a four-letter word
seems to be fine one way but not the other," the former Ireland full-back
added. "The process has just dragged. It's unfair on him.
"Do we condone it? No, nobody does, he
knew he had done wrong, he apologised but to let it drag the way it has for him
is not particularly fair, especially when you know some of the stuff that was
said to him. We will support him through it."
Marler was dropped to the bench for the
France game, but Jones was adamant this was a tactical change and not a
Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of
England's RFU, tried to draw a line under the incident by saying last week that
the Six Nations' decision to take no action against Marler should be "the
end of the matter".