WATCH | England prop Joe Marler appears to grab Welsh opponent's genitals
England's Joe Marler, who grabbed Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones in the groin area during Saturday's Six Nations victory, should avoid being an "embarrassment" to the team, former coach Clive Woodward has said.
Ten minutes into the Twickenham game, a melee broke out when Wales had a try disallowed for a George North knock-on and the incident involving Marler and Jones was caught on camera.
"You can be a great player, a character and different but don't go around being a distraction and embarrassment to the team, shirt and country," Woodward, who coached England to Rugby World Cup glory in 2003, wrote in his column in the Daily Mail.
"I knew England were in big trouble before the World Cup final (last year) when Joe Marler started horsing around at a bizarre press conference with Dan Cole.
"That was embarrassing, disrespectful and said much about the team's mindset.
"I wouldn't stand for that and... nor should the team.
"We saw it again with his ridiculous groping at Jones' genitalia... perhaps he thinks that's clever... but it'll be interesting to see how the Rugby Football Union handle this. I know what I'd do."
Footage of the incident led to ferocious debate on Twitter, with some passing off the incident as a harmless joke and others accusing Marler of sexual assault.
Rugby is mixed gender up to u13s so if a young lad sees this and thinks its acceptable then copies it but towards a young girl how do we feel then? Have to remember this is in front of a worldwide audience not down the local park.— James (@JamesEgan88) March 9, 2020
Marler took to Twitter on Sunday after the footage started trending on social media.
Alun assaulted him first, it stopped him pushing Joe in the neck— KD (@kellyrubygrace) March 9, 2020
His international future in doubt as he could face a disciplinary hearing following the controversial incident.
Prop Marler, 29, is likely to be cited by the sport's governing body World Rugby.
According to its law 9.27, "a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship" with grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals warranting a minimum suspension of 12 weeks and a maximum of four years.
@piersmorgan and @DrHilaryJones spot on about the @JoeMarler 'incident'. @AlunWynJones needs to get over himself. It was a bit of craic in the middle of a punch up to diffuse the situation. Been there millions of times in my playing career, its Rugby not bloody football!— Steve Brown - Staffordshire Funeral Celebrant (@amicuscelebrant) March 9, 2020
England's victory took them to 13 points from four games, level with France.
Their final game against Italy in Rome was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.