‘Gypsy boy’ comment ‘banter’

Samson Lee

Samson Lee has made 21 appearances for Wales

Warren Gatland says Wales have no issue with England’s Joe Marler after his apology for calling Samson Lee “Gypsy boy”, saying the remark was “banter”.

Marler apologised to Lee, who is from a Traveller background, at half-time during England’s Six Nations win.

Traveller community campaigner Shay Clipson said Marler should be banned.

“It’s not just in sport, I think it’s in every aspect of life where people get so PC and just make massive issues about things,” coach Gatland said.

“It was just one of those things, a little bit of banter and we’ve accepted that and we’ve accepted his apology and just move on.

“Fifteen or 20 years ago, those things were sorted out with fists and stuff.”

The comment by Marler, 25, is under investigation by Six Nations officials.

Clipson, the founder of the National Alliance of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma women, told BBC Radio 5 live on Monday that the Harlequins prop “cannot make mistakes like that and expect to just say sorry and walk away”.

She added that the public had to imagine what the reaction would have been had a black or Asian player been subject to that sort of derogatory remark.

Marler has been cited for a separate incident of foul play involving another Wales prop, Rob Evans.


Joe Marler has played in 41 Test matches for England

Gatland’s comments came after he named four changes to his team for their final Six Nations match against Italy.

A previous Welsh Rugby Union statement said: “We’re disappointed by the comment made, and pleased Joe Marler apologised.”

On Monday, assistant coach Rob Howley commented: “As players and coaches, there’s banter in the game, but I think there’s no place for that.”

Marler’s comment to Lee was heard by television viewers after being picked up on referee Craig Joubert’s microphone.

“In modern sport, players have got to be aware that there are microphones everywhere and you have to act accordingly to the possibility that comments are going to be picked up on the field,” Gatland said.

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