'˜Gypsy boy' jibe mars England Six Nations title joy

ENGLAND have revealed that Joe Marler has apologised to Samson Lee for verbally abusing the Wales prop in Saturday's RBS Six Nations victory.

Tournament organisers have 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 up to Marler and a statement released by the Rugby Football Union yesterday afternoon confirmed the Harlequins loosehead was responsible for the remark.

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“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 effectively signals the end of his Six Nations as England, who were confirmed as champions after events at Murrayfield yesterday, are seeking to complete the Grand Slam in their final match against France in Paris on Saturday.

Adding to Marler’s woes in an eventful first half for the Harlequins front row is 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 said.

Wales, who saw their own title hopes fade with their defeat at Twickenham, welcomed Marler’s apology but said they were “disappointed by the comment made”.

Yesterday’s fall-out over Marler marred what should have been a glorious day for England. Scotland’s win over France meant that England ended a run of four successive runners-up finishes by being crowned Six Nations champions in Jones’ debut campaign as head coach. It was their first title since 2011 and victory in Paris would result in the Grand Slam – an achievement they last managed in 2003.

Jones admitted the victory celebrations at the squad’s Surrey training base will be restrained as he sets his players’ sights on a clean sweep. “The emotions were a bit mixed to be honest,” the Australian explained.

“It’s obviously nice to win the championship, but as a team we feel like we haven’t achieved what we want to achieve and that’s the Grand Slam. If we prepare well, we’ll do the business.

“France were always going to be a difficult side and they showed at times against Scotland that they can play sublime rugby. At other times it’s not so sublime, so we need to make sure they don’t have too many sublime moments.

“Winning the title is a fantastic achievement by the team. The squad is still very much the same one from the World Cup, so that squad has changed themselves and the real credit goes to the players.”

England’s win over Wales was thanks to a punishing first-half display and flawless goalkicking from Owen Farrell. Farrell kicked six penalties and converted Anthony Watson’s 32nd-minute try.

Wales scored three second-half tries through Dan Biggar, George North and Taulupe Faletau – two of which came in the final six minutes when England had prop Dan Cole in the sin-bin – to make it a tense finish, having been 19-0 down after 46 minutes. But England held on for victory and then, yesterday, claimed the title. And possibly this weekend they’ll add a Grand Slam.