Joe Marler

England and Harlequins prop Joe Marler has been banned for six weeks – four of them suspended – after accepting a charge regarding comments made to Bristol flanker Jake Heenan.

The 32-year-old attended a disciplinary hearing on Friday after being cited for conduct prejudicial to the game.

He will serve a two-week ban but the rest could be imposed for any similar offence before the end of next season.

Marler will miss Harlequins’ trip to Northampton in the Premiership on Sunday and the home match against Sale on 8 January.

He apologised to Heenan on Twitter after the match at Twickenham Stoop, but has also been ordered to give a presentation to a local club or school, and to a Premiership academy, on the core values of the game.

“The player accepted that his conduct was prejudicial to the interests of the game,” RFU disciplinary panel chair Gareth Graham said.

“Rugby’s core values are not empty words or slogans which can be signed up to and then ignored. They are integral to the game.

“The insulting and offensive comments made by the player were wholly inappropriate; such comments should form no part of the modern game.”

The panel concluded that a ban of six weeks was proportionate, but that it was also appropriate to suspend part of that sanction.

In 2016, Marler was banned for two weeks and fined £20,000 for language used towards Wales prop Samson Lee, and in 2020 he received a 10-week suspension for grabbing lock Alun Wyn Jones’ genitals during a Six Nations game.

Speaking about the incident with Heenan, Bristol rugby director coach Pat Lam said: “I love Joe Marler, but something was said and there was a reaction from Jake I have never seen before.

“We are all custodians of the game – players, coaches – and one thing we all value and we all work hard to keep is the right values and spirit.”

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