Joe Marler’s ‘gypsy-gate’ affair took another twist on Sunday night when Conor O’Shea, the Harlequins director of rugby, claimed his loosehead prop had also been subject to verbal abuse during England’s Six Nations clash against Wales two weeks ago.
World Rugby is expected to announce on Monday a date for Marler’s hearing after microphones picked up him calling the Wales prop Samson Lee “gypsy boy”.
Further video footage released over the weekend suggested that Marler had also said “get back to your caravan” to Lee with lip-reading evidence likely to be used in the World Rugby hearing. But O’Shea claimed that Marler had been subject to a four-letter insult during the Twickenham match and insisted that Harlequins would continue to support their player.
“I know Joe and whatever has gone on, Joe is not in any way, shape or form racist. Things are said in the heat of the moment that shouldn’t be,” he said. “He owned up and apologised at the time, both accepted it. 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.
“Posh, English and a four-letter word seems to be fine one way but not the other. I just think both wanted to draw a line under it. 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.”
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