The exculpation of Joe Marler for calling Samson Lee a “gypsy boy” is as questionable as it is risible.
Cut through the dubious logic of the citing commissioner’s judgment, or the assumption that the “matter was closed” – best of luck with that – and focus simply upon the acceptance that the England loosehead’s words were uttered “in the heat of the moment”.
Is that right? Really? And even if it is, can it excuse what was said? This, then, is what the Six Nations disciplinary process has come to: the heat-of-the-moment defence, a smokescreen that equates racial abuse with the lads just letting off steam.
I would question whether “gypsy boy” is racial abuse. Might, just about, accept that it’s a racial epithet but I’m afraid that I don’t count all such as abuse.
And I think I’d go further than that. I’m not sure that the concept of racial abuse has a place on a rugby field. Nothing but self-preservation is needed to prevent someone calling Itoje “monkey boy” or the like and the egos of prop forwards can handle gypsy boy even if Marler might not physically survive having called him gyppo.