England, and Harlequins, prop Joe Marler will face a World Rugby misconduct hearing on 5 April after calling Wales' Samson Lee a "gypsy boy" during the Six Nations match at Twickenham on 12 March. The 25-year-old evaded punishment from tournament officials, after his display of contrition, but the sport's governing body later asked for observations surrounding the incident and confirmed a full investigation would take place.
Marler was reprimanded by the Rugby Football Union, Six Nations and coach Eddie Jones following the episode. At half-time the forward apologised to Lee, originally from the traveller community, during the 25-21 victory, and the player was included in the matchday squad for the grand slam clincher over France. However, the Welsh Rugby Union took exception to Marler averting formal punishment, leading to World Rugby asking for further details regarding the incident.
A three-person committee will assess the incident and rule whether further action should be taken against Marler. Penalties could be: a warning, a heavy fine or a lengthy ban from the game which could yet see him ruled out for the remainder of Quins' domestic campaign – including the premiership play-offs.
"World Rugby can confirm that the Joe Marler misconduct hearing is scheduled to take place on 5 April in London," a statement from the governing body read. "The case will be heard by an independent judicial committee, assembled by the independent judicial chairman in accordance with World Rugby regulation 18. The committee will comprise Terry Willis (chair, Australia), Jean-Noël Couraud (France) and Alan Hudson (Canada)."
The RFU are satisfied that they have taken the appropriate action against Marler, and that the decision from the Six Nations committee to accept his apology should draw a line under the incident. Chief executive Ian Ritchie said: "There was no citing officer complaint, there was no referee complaint and the Six Nations looked at the matter fully as well and came to a conclusion. So as far as I'm concerned that should be the end of the matter."