Sheffield Wednesday: Could heavy rugby union punishment for England star Joe Marler lead to FA probe into the Darnell Fisher Callum Paterson incident?

Back in March, England Rugby star Joe Marler was banned for 10 weeks for touching the genitalia of Welsh legend Alun Wyn Jones.Back in March, England Rugby star Joe Marler was banned for 10 weeks for touching the genitalia of Welsh legend Alun Wyn Jones.
Back in March, England Rugby star Joe Marler was banned for 10 weeks for touching the genitalia of Welsh legend Alun Wyn Jones.
Preston North End defender Darnell Fisher is in hot water after footage of him grabbing at the genitalia of Sheffield Wednesday forward Callum Paterson during yesterday’s clash at Deepdale went viral on social media.

The incident, which was picked up live by iFollow footage, appeared to show him deliberately grabbing at the private parts of the Scotland international as Preston defended a set piece in the second half.

Despite low-key protestations from Paterson at the time, no action was taken by referee David Webb. Many supporters have cited the example of an incident that saw England rugby star Joe Marler slapped with a ban for a similar incident that saw him ‘tickle’ the penis of Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones.

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But what happened, how long was he banned for and could the same happen to Fisher? Let’s take a look.

What happened?

The Marler incident was also caught on camera, this time live on BBC One as England ran to a 33-30 Six Nations win over Jones’ side back in March. The pair are British Lions teammates.

Speaking to press after the game, Jones seemed to take umbrage at the jovial nature of a question posed about the incident, asking a journalist: “What would you do in that situation?”

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said after the match: "There's no place for that in the game”. In response Marler tweeted: “B****cks. Complete b****cks”.

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Aside from Tony Pulis’ admission that he had yet to see the incident, no comment has yet been made by any party on the Fisher incident.

How long was he banned for?

This is where the lines are blurred to some extent.

The RFU have fairly specific laws in place for such incidents and slapped Marker with a 10-week ban, which fell two weeks short of the ‘low-end’ sanctions for ‘grabbing, squeezing or twisting the genitals’. Marler was not seen to be ‘grabbing’, only ‘touching’. A maximum ban would have seen him banned for nearly four years.

In football, the FA’s laws are not quite as specific.

Interestingly, Marler’s ban came into effect as the coronavirus crisis took hold, meaning he did not miss a single match during his ban.

So will Fisher get a similar ban?

‘Citing’ is common practice in rugby for unsavoury incidents that have been caught on camera but left unpunished during the match. It is as yet unclear whether the FA will even look at the incident.

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It was said that the response of Jones, a legend of rugby, put pressure on the RFU to impose a heavy sanction and while not as high-profile, it remains to be seen whether or not the FA are placed under similar pressure.

What has Marler said?

Speaking in June, Marler said: “What I did was inappropriate and wrong on that stage. The people that came out and compared it to sexual assault in the workplace completely blew my mind but I did stop for a second and take on their opinions and how they were made to feel about it all.

“I didn’t sexually assault someone in the workplace. I tickled someone's k**b, as a laugh, who I'd known for several years now, on the wrong stage, really.

“I should have probably waited for there not to be cameras around but it was a bit of a brain fart.”



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