Joe Marler's 'gypsy boy' slur takes shine off England's Six Nations title glory
England 25-21 Wales
England will travel to Paris as the new Six Nations champions when the tournament reaches its conclusion this weekend - Scotland's victory over the French at Murrayfield yesterday presented the Red Rose team with a first title since 2011 after they had secured the Triple Crown against Wales - but the success was tainted by an unpleasant row involving Joe Marler.
The loose-head prop from Harlequins was heard abusing Samson Lee during the England-Wales game at Twickenham on Saturday.
He called his front-row rival a "gypsy boy" during a first-half kerfuffle and Lee, visibly angered, squared up to him.
Tournament officials said they would launch an immediate investigation and within hours, the Rugby Football Union confirmed that Marler had apologised to the 23-year-old forward from Llanelli during the interval.
The governing body also said that Eddie Jones, the England coach, had "reminded Marler of his responsibilities".
Marler, who apologised, faces a significant ban - the minimum sanction for such abuse is a four-week suspension - so his chances of participating in the Grand Slam match across the water are no greater than zero.
He may also be cited following an incident at a ruck in which he appeared to catch the Wales forward Rob Evans in the face with his forearm.
Jones confessed he had "mixed feelings" about winning the title at his first attempt - not because of any disciplinary issues, but because he did not feel England had completed the job.
"We want to achieve the Grand Slam and we haven't done that yet," the Australian said.
"I've just seen Dylan Hartley (the red rose captain) and we didn't know whether to give each other a hug or just get on with business.
"We may go to the bar for a couple of beers after our regular Sunday night team meeting."
If the coach sounded wary of France despite the poverty of some of their rugby in this championship - "They're completely reliant on momentum and when they get that and start flicking the ball around, wonderful things happen," he warned - he also expressed great satisfaction at the way his players, many of whom were involved in the home World Cup meltdown before Christmas, had transformed into a winning unit.
"It's a fantastic achievement and the credit goes to the players in the squad because they've changed themselves," he said before giving another Harlequins forward, the flanker and former captain Chris Robshaw, a special mention in dispatches.
"He's been outstanding: to go from where he was at the end of the World Cup to where he is now is fine."
The citing officer reviewing the Twickenham game, John Cole of Ireland, must decide whether to level a charge at the Wales prop Tomas Francis, who was penalised after television footage showed his fingers near the eye area of the England front-rower Dan Cole.
Craig Joubert, the referee, took no further action because there was insufficient footage available, but the Wales coach Warren Gatland confessed that on first viewing, the incident "didn't look great".