Marler clearance ‘should end matter’

England's Joe Marler

Marler was a replacement in England’s win over France at the weekend which secured the Grand Slam

Six Nations bosses clearing Joe Marler over remarks to Samson Lee “should be the end of the matter”, says Rugby Football Union chief Ian Ritchie.

The England prop was reprimanded after his “Gypsy boy” comment to Wales’ Lee, who is from the Traveller community, during England’s win at Twickenham.

The Six Nations committee accepted Marler’s private and public apology and did not impose any punishment.

“As far as I’m concerned that should be the end of the matter,” said Ritchie.

“Let’s take some perspective and let’s not deflect from what we did in terms of the Grand Slam.

“What Joe said was entirely inappropriate. He recognised that, he apologised very quickly and has apologised publicly since then.

“It’s pretty clear that nobody made a complaint about it, and I think Samson Lee’s reaction to it has been evident and he accepted the apology.

“[England coach] Eddie Jones and I spoke about it and when Eddie talks to someone that person is left in no doubt as to the appropriate nature of his behaviour, and that it should not be repeated.

“There was no citing officer complaint, there was no referee complaint and the Six Nations looked at the matter fully as well and came to a conclusion.”

World Rugby has since begun an investigation into the process behind clearing Marler and could yet enforce sanctions on the 25-year-old – but Ritchie has backed the Six Nations’ disciplinary rulings.

Campaigners from the Traveller community – and figures inside the sport – had been critical of Marler for making the comment and called for a ban.

The Harlequins player apologised to Lee, who said he accepted the comment as “banter”.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland also described the incident as “banter”, but subsequently apologised following criticism.

The Welsh Rugby Union’s questioning of the punishment caused England head coach Jones to accuse them of trying to derail his side’s Grand Slam bid.

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