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WRU surprised Joe Marler escaped punishment over 'racist language'

David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

The Welsh Rugby Union says it is surprised at the decision not to sanction England prop Joe Marler for the "racist language" he used towards Wales' Samson Lee last weekend.

Loosehead prop Marler was cleared to play in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations match against France by the tournament's disciplinary committee despite striking one Wales prop -- Rob Evans -- and calling Lee a "gypsy boy".

He has been left out of the starting XV to face Les Bleus in a match England need to win to secure the Grand Slam, but Jones insists his omission from the line-up had nothing to do with the Lee incident.

"We are surprised by the decision of the Six Nations disciplinary hearing," the WRU statement read. "We stand by our belief that there is no place for the use of racist language in sport."

The WRU statement on Thursday was at odds with initial remarks from their national coach Warren Gatland, who described the incident as "banter". Gatland later apologised for describing the incident in that way.

England coach Eddie Jones picked up on this apparent contradiction, stating at his press conference on Thursday: "Maybe [the WRU] don't know whether they are Arthur or Martha.

"There was a decision made, that is what we have these judiciary committees for. I said I would let the process run its route -- it has run its route."

Referring to the contradictory messages coming from the Wales camp, Jones told Sky Sports News: "Everyone is keen for England not to win the Grand Slam."

Asked if that meant he thought the WRU statement was designed to undermine England's Grand Slam bid, Jones replied: "Why else would they [release the statement]."

But Jones said he would not be speaking to Gatland about the situation, adding: "I don't think it is anything to do with Warren.

"This is why you having citing commissions. Once they have made their decision you get on with -- you don't say it [the decision] is wrong."

The WRU added in its statement: "Clearly, this incident has raised broader issues for the game of rugby which require follow-up, and which we are undertaking directly with the Six Nations.

"Our focus now is on preparing for the final weekend of the championship and giving the Welsh public the win they deserve."

Speaking during a scheduled Wales press conference at the squad's training base on Thursday and before the WRU gave an official reaction, Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards was asked for his thoughts on the Marler outcome.

Edwards said: "I can't speak for myself - I can speak for the organisation [WRU] in that we don't condone any sort of discrimination, whether it be racial, religion, sexuality, etc.

"As an organisation, I think we probably slightly disagree with it, but the decision has been made and we move on."

Jones has selected Mako Vunipola to start at loosehead ahead of Marler, but he stressed that Marler's appearance on the bench in Paris was not a form of punishment.

"Absolutely not," he said. "[Starting with Mako Vunipola] suits the way we are going to play at the weekend."

Jones then sought to draw a line under the row over Marler's comment, adding: "We have a Grand Slam in front of us and a Grand Slam is much more interesting than something that was said seven days ago."

Danny Care replaces Ben Youngs at scrum-half in the only other change from the England side which started the victory over Wales and Jones was at pains to stress that the switch was not a reflection on Youngs' form.

"It is not about which is the better half," said Jones. "Ben Youngs last week was absolutely outstanding. Danny gets first go this week because it suits our game plan."