Wales coach Warren Gatland apologises for 'banter' remark

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Wales coach Warren Gatland has apologised for describing Joe Marler's "gypsy boy" taunt to Samson Lee as "banter".

Marler made the offensive remark to Lee during England's RBS 6 Nations win over Wales, but has since apologised to the prop and been reprimanded by Eddie Jones.

Gatland drew criticism for his take on the incident, but said in a statement on Wednesday: "I don't condone racism of any kind. I apologise for any offence my use of the word banter may have caused.

"My intention was to take the focus away from Samson, a private individual, and enable him and the rest of squad to prepare for the final game of the championship.

"My comments were made following a discussion with Samson about the incident."

In a separate statement, released alongside Gatland's, Lee said: "I stand beside Warren. I personally believe the comments to have been intended as banter and accepted Joe's apology on Saturday.

"Warren is fiercely protective of the team and his comments were made based on conversations with me and with the intention of deflecting attention away from me."

The WRU, meanwhile, urged the Six Nations to bring a "speedy conclusion" to their investigation into the incident.

"The WRU does not condone racism of any kind. The incident is being investigated by Six Nations and we would welcome a definitive and speedy conclusion to their investigation," a statement read.

"The WRU recognises that Warren's overriding intention was to protect Samson by playing down the incident and that his comments were made following a thorough consultation with Samson and with his support."