England’s Joe Marler – One Of The Game’s Great ‘Characters’ Or Just A Narcissistic Gobsh*te?

Divided.

Joe Marler made headlines once again over the weekend following a controversial incident with Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones that has seen him cited and likely to receive some kind of ban.

And the England prop is no stranger to headlines due to his behaviour both on and off the field. He has been banned multiple times and is fairly outspoken on social media, particularly when it comes to controversial topics.

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Some people absolutely adore his ‘banter’ and reckon he’s one of the games great ‘characters’ but others think he’s nothing more than narcissistic gobshite who brings unwanted attention to the game and feeds stereotypes that we want to rid from the sport.

Firstly, let’s take a look at his discipline record over the years.

April 2016: Two-game ban and a £20k fine for calling Wales prop Samson Lee a “Gyspy Boy” during a Six Nations game.

April 2016: Two-week ban for kicking Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy in the head on his first match back.

June 2016: Formal warning for a Tweet on social media where he called former Australia coach Bob Dwyer “a w**ker”.

September 2017: Reprimanded for an incident with James Haskell where he sprayed a water bottle in the face of his international teammate and sparked a melee between the two.

October 2017: Three-week ban for elbowing an opponent, missed the Six Nations.

January 2018: Six-week ban for a nasty clearout on Sale flanker TJ Ioane. Misses two Six Nations games.

September 2018: Reprimand after he reveals he would sometimes look to get banned so we would not have to go on England duty.

March 2020: Cited for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones by the testicles with a ban likely.

Now at first glance that doesn’t make for pretty reading. Marler’s record isn’t great with the majority of his bans completely avoidable. Some of them are pretty nasty too and just downright reckless. His comments about Samson Lee were also racist to an extent and uncalled for.

But on the flip side, Marler has done some wonderful things over the years and has used his position for good. His comments and posts about Israel Folau and Billy Vunipola following their controversial homophobic posts were hugely welcomed and needed.

Former teammate Adam Jones meanwhile, applauded Marler for helping him in his darkest moments following the death of his mother.

“The morning I found out – and I know he hasn’t got the best reputation in Wales – I was sharing with Joe Marler and if he hadn’t been there, I would have been in a hell of a mess. I would have really struggled,” Jones said.

“He was up with me at 4am sorting stuff out, getting me whatever I needed, he took me to get breakfast.

“Joe was brilliant with me that morning.”

More recently he showed his class by refusing to accept a jersey off a French prop who wanted to swap him. Marler handed over his, but let the Frenchman keep his because it was from his debut and should be cherished.

Then there’s his famous Barbarians interview that made us all smile. He showed he’s an honest family man that just loves playing the game and cherishes the old values that are slowly dying out to an extent.

So what’s the verdict? Personally, I think he is a great character and guys like him are fantastic for the game at times. People take life far too serious these days and Marler is a great example for people that just need to chill out and have a laugh.

But at the same time, he is a bit of a narcissist and some of his actions over the years make him a big of a gobshite. He takes things too far sometimes and oversteps boundaries which are also necessary both in life and in rugby.

At the end of the day, none of us are perfect.