England and Harlequins prop Joe Marler has denied that he is a racist ahead of his World Rugby disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Tuesday.
The Quins loose head said, via Twitter, that while his remarks to Wales prop Samson Lee were regrettable, they do not make him a racist.
“I’m not a racist. What I said to Samson was out of order and wrong and I am sorry it was said,” said Marler.
“Whatever happens to me I will accept, I’m sorry to anyone who was offended, saying it was ‘in the heat of the moment’ isn’t an excuse but one comment, one mistake, does not make me a racist.”
— Joe Marler (@JoeMarler) April 4, 2016
Marler has previously escaped sanction from the Six Nations judiciary after the disciplinary committee decided against suspending the front rower for allegedly striking Welsh prop Rob Evans, and for calling Lee a “gypsy boy” during England’s 25-21 win over Wales earlier in this year’s tournament.
Six Nations Rugby said in a statement (via The42.ie) that it was “aware of the seriousness of Mr Marler’s comment and does not in anyway condone what was said” but accepted it was said “in the heat of the moment”.
Meanwhile World Rugby (via RTÉ) said that Marler’s remark “amounts to misconduct and/or a breach of its code of conduct, and that they have requested further information from Six Nations Rugby in respect of the process that led to its decision.”
The Welsh Rugby Union also questioned the verdict, stating (via Dan Roan):
“We are surprised by the decision of the Six Nations disciplinary hearing.
“We stand by our belief that that there is no place for the use of racist language in sport.
“Clearly this incident has raised broader issues for the game of rugby which require follow up and which we are undertaking directly with Six Nations.”
Jack O’Toole, Pundit Arena
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