Rugby player Joe Marler banned for 10 weeks after grabbing opponent's genitals

    Marler will be free to resume playing on Monday, June 8.

    (CNN)English rugby player Joe Marler has been handed a 10-week ban for grabbing an opponent's genitals.

    The incident occurred during the Six Nations match between England and Wales on Saturday when Marler squeezed the groin area of Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones during a scuffle between opposing players.
    At disciplinary hearing in Dublin on Thursday, the Six Nations panel decided to punish Marler for his actions.
      "The Disciplinary Committee found that the act of foul play warranted a low-end entry point (12 weeks' suspension) and reduced that by three weeks to take account of mitigating factors (including good character and remorse) but increased it by one week to take account of his most recent disciplinary record," said a statement on England's Rugby Football Union website.
      Marler is famous in rugby for highlighting the lighter side of the game; the Harlequins player has been caught on camera exchanging banter with referees and winding up opponents along with giving entertaining interviews.
      The 29-year-old Marler will be free to resume playing on Monday, June 8. He has the right to appeal the ban.
      Joe Marler has played over 60 times for England.
      After the match Jones, whose side was on the end of a 33-30 defeat at Twickenham, called for incidents such as this to be scrutinized more rigorously during games.
      "Joe's a good bloke," he said.
      "Lots of things happen on a rugby field. My question is, it's difficult as a captain these days because you can't speak to a ref about anything it feels. I look at the touch judge, obviously he didn't see what happened and that's fine.
      "But there's a lot of footage that's been shown, obviously. It seems there's a lot of supporters that saw what happened. It's just very frustrating, the fact that we talk a lot about TMOs (television match officials) and footage review but there doesn't seem to be a lot of it happening (during the game)."

      Controversy

      The incident has divided opinion within the rugby world.
      Harlequins scrumhalf Danny Care has defended Marler, saying: "I've lost count of the number of people who have touched my genitals in a game of rugby."
      Speaking to the Guardian, Care said he didn't "see it as a big deal" and suggested that the incident would not have been played up as much if Wales had won.
      "Alun Wyn Jones's reaction after the game is probably a disappointed and angry Alun Wyn Jones, and that is a way to take a bit of that anger out," Care said.
      "You could see there was no malice in it, it's a joke between two old teammates.
      "I can understand why people have seen it the wrong way, you don't want to see kids seeing that.
      "It was in a rugby environment and it happens a lot."
      Danny Care, who has played 84 times for England, defended his teammate.
      Marler hasn't spoken at length about the incident in public but, after many voiced their opposition to his actions, he tweeted: "B*llocks. Complete b*llocks." He later deleted the tweet.
        This isn't the first time an incident of this kind has occurred on the rugby field.
        Second-row George Robson was banned for six weeks for grabbing an opponent's testicles in 2016, while Samoa's James So'oialo was cleared of grabbing the testicles of Adriaan Strauss in 2013 after the act was deemed accidental.