Joe Marler apologises to Samson Lee over remark
England have revealed that Joe Marler has apologised to Samson Lee for verbally abusing the Wales prop in Saturday's 25-21 RBS 6 Nations victory at Twickenham.
Tournament organisers confirmed they are investigating an incident in the first half in which Lee can be heard on referee Craig Joubert's microphone being called a "gypsy boy".
Angered by the insult, Lee squared off with Marler and a statement released by the Rugby Football Union on Sunday afternoon confirmed the Harlequins loosehead was responsible for the remark.
"Joe spoke to Samson at half-time to apologise and he was reminded by (head coach) Eddie Jones of his responsibilities as an England player after the game," the RFU statement read.
Verbal abuse of a player based on religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or otherwise carries a minimum sanction of a four-week suspension.
Marler's admission of guilt thus effectively signals the end of his Six Nations as England are seeking to complete the Grand Slam in their final match of the championship against France in Paris on Saturday, having already tied up the title.
Adding to Marler's woes in an eventful first half for the Harlequins front row was an incident in which he appeared to land a forearm in the face of Wales prop Rob Evans, an offence which carries an entry-point sanction of two weeks.
"We are aware of the incidents and are establishing the facts at this moment," a Six Nations spokesperson told Press Association Sport.
Wales, who saw their own title hopes fade with their defeat at Twickenham, welcomed Marler's apology.
"We're disappointed by the comment made and pleased Joe Marler apologised to Samson and was reminded of his responsibilities as an international rugby player," a Welsh Rugby Union spokesman said.
Marler is known for his short fuse, although the heavily tattooed 25-year-old, who sports a Mohican haircut, appeared to have kept his temper in check in recent seasons.
He has only a minor disciplinary record but would frequently become embroiled in scuffles with opponents, causing concern to management at both his club and England.
"It was an issue but it's not any more. Well, it's a 'work-on' shall we say," the 41-cap international said last year.
"I used to go round thinking the best way for me to impose myself on the opposition was to whack 'em. It took a while for the real meaning of what a tough guy is to sink in."
The first-half scenes at Twickenham will have revived fears over Marler's temperament and Jones is sure to have taken a dim view of two incidents which are set to rob him of his first-choice loosehead for the Stade de France finale.
In the most grave of the two incidents, Joubert signalled a penalty against Wales for obstruction and a minor scuffle between the rival forwards ensued.
At one point Lee is surrounded by white shirts before Marler strides over with the words "gypsy boy" heard clearly on the audio and the insult infuriates the Welshman, who has spoken freely about his heritage in the past.
In the other moment that will interest the citing officer, Marler appears to strike the prone Evans as he attempts to help Dan Cole ground the ball over the whitewash.
A Six Nations spokesperson has stated that the announcement of the citing of Wales prop Tomas Francis for making contact with the eye area of Cole as part of the tournament's disciplinary update for the weekend does not indicate Marler will not be cited.
The citing officer has up to 48 hours after the final whistle to make a complaint.