Will Greenwood says England's Joe Marler 'misguided', but 'not nasty'
Last Updated: 13/03/20 9:38am
England prop Joe Marler's actions in his incident with Wales' Alun Wyn Jones last Saturday at Twickenham last Saturday were 'misguided' but 'not nasty', according to Will Greenwood.
During the first half of Wales' 33-30 Six Nations defeat to England, Marler grabbed Wales skipper Jones by the genitals in view of the touchline camera. The Harlequins loosehead was later cited for the incident.
Thursday brought news that Marler was to be banned for 10 weeks, after the disciplinary committee found that he had committed an act of foul play (an infringement of Law 9.27) and that it had warranted a red card.
The panel found that the act of foul play warranted a low-end entry point (twelve weeks' suspension) and reduced that by three weeks to take account of mitigating factors (including good character and remorse) but increased it by one week to take account of his most recent disciplinary record, banning him until Monday, 8 June 2020.
Speaking on this week's Will Greenwood Podcast episode, Greenwood gave his personal take on the incident.
"My initial reaction ... was I was slightly dumbstruck at what I'd just seen.
"Then I went back ... talked to [Sky Sports] a couple of days after the incident and I actually went to chat to my wife about it because I thought I needed to get perspective on this from a parent, from a mother of a young lad who's playing because you have to view it in this context.
"If you understand that younger players emulate top stars, you just can't do it.
"It's law 9.27 and is in the same category as spitting, hair pulling and I think you have to grab, squeeze or twist genitalia - or breasts for a female player - to get the vocabulary right.
"I don't think he did any of those.
"What's the difference between fondle and tickle? And tweak? If you consider spitting, hair pulling, grabbing and squeezing, you have a nasty element to it. An aggressive, inflict pain or really humiliate someone.
"Therefore, in an attempt at humour or tomfoolery with a bloke who he's been on tour with before [Lions tour to New Zealand 2017], he's misjudged a situation.
"But I do not think, by the way, that this is a throw the rule book at him, ban him. It's four years one side of the ban, and minimum entry 12 weeks - I do not think this is anywhere near that.
"No chance [will he get a 12-week ban]. I think he needs to come out and apologise, and I think this is an error of judgement rather than anything nasty.
"I don't want to drag Exeter Chiefs into this, though by mentioning them I have. They went through a whole host of years where whenever someone scored a try for the Chiefs, the whole team came in to give the person who scored a 'Joe Marler'.
"I don't think he [Marler] was trying to provoke Jones. Because of who Jones is, and Marler knows and understands who Jones is, I do not think it was provocation or that he was trying to get Jones to try and swing and hit him.
"Genuinely, I think he was just kidding around. And in hindsight, it was not a great way to kid around, in any climate. I always found the Exeter Chiefs celebration a distasteful one.
"So go back to the initial time I found out about it - I was watching my son playing U11s rugby, and the fact kids copy players, I would be horrified if someone did that to my son.
"So therefore it's absolutely unacceptable. But this is not 12 weeks - oh my god. It's not grabbing, squeezing, twisting - he is not doing this as an aggressive act.
"Joe Marler is expecting a humorous reaction from Jones. He's expecting this to all be a bit of fun.
"Misguided, slightly distasteful humour, considering the role-model and example you are supposed to set.
"But it is not handcuffs, prison, 12 weeks or damning him for eternity."
Referee Nigel Owens was also a guest on the podcast, and the official - who is openly homosexual - also gave his take.
"People can take things in the wrong context or in the way they want to take it, and sometimes I think people look for things to be offended about on other peoples behalf," Owens said.
"There needs to be a balance. We must never lose our ability to have a sense a humour and a joke and a laugh, because through some very difficult times in my personal life, it's a laugh and a joke which has got me through it.
"But we also must remember that there is a time and a place for everything as well. We must uphold those values of rugby.
"You have to take things in context. What Joe Marler did, I don't think he meant anything malicious by it, but it was not the right thing to do in a game like that when you have million and millions of people watching at home.
"Gareth Thomas made those comments [half-time jokes of the incident] and a lot of people found it funny, but maybe what should have been added on was that it wasn't the right place to do this and it shouldn't be happening in the game."