Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Drop Marler despite Escaping Bans; Prop Cleared to Play after 'Gypsy Boy' Jibe Only Makes Bench for Grand Slam Decider

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Drop Marler despite Escaping Bans; Prop Cleared to Play after 'Gypsy Boy' Jibe Only Makes Bench for Grand Slam Decider

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Jones Rugby Correspondent

EDDIE JONES today dropped Joe Marler for the Grand Slam clash with France on Saturday, despite the prop dodging two bans for incidents during the victory over Wales.

The Harlequins forward pleaded guilty to striking Rob Evans with his arm but a Six Nations disciplinary panel ruled it was not a red-card incident and cleared him to play. Shortly after that announcement last night, tournament chiefs decided not to take any action over Marler's "gypsy boy" taunt to Wales prop Samson Lee.

Despite training with England this week, Marler (right) will start on the replacements' bench in Paris with Saracens' Mako Vunipola coming into the front row as one of two changes from the team that hung on for a 25-21 win over Wales.

Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care has regained the starting position from Ben Youngs even though the Leicester man has been in impressive form for England, particularly with his tactical kicking.

France have also made two changes for the clash, bringing Bernard Le Roux and Loann Goujon into their back row in a bid to counter England's mobile pack.

As for Marler, the intense publicity following his comment to Lee has kept the media-shy prop in the headlines for most of the week.

Jones was due to explain the prop's demotion at a press conference this afternoon and, even if it was for tactical reasons, the move will take some of the pressure off Marler, who will appear during the second half when France usually bring on a new front row.

The head coach has kept Maro Itoje at lock in an unchanged pack but the 21-year-old is likely to move to blindside flanker in the second half when Joe Launchbury is expected to be brought into the second row. Either Chris Robshaw or James Haskell will leave the action to accommodate Itoje's move into the back row. …

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