England forward Joe Marler will be looking at an extended spell on the sidelines after grabbing Wales Captain Alwyn Jones in the crotch during their Six Nations clash, but it was the joke of pundit Gareth Thomas that has divided fans.
Marler was caught on camera grabbing Alun Wyn Jones in the crotch region during England’s 33-30 Six Nations win over Wales on Saturday.
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Jones was bewildered as he tried to get the referee’s attention to the prop’s underhanded tactics.
But the incident was discussed on the ITV panel following the game and Welsh pundit Gareth Thomas - who came out publicly in 2009 - made a joke about the crotch grab at his own expense.
“It would've never have happened in my day and I'm really upset about that - because if it had I would have never retired,” he said.
The joke had the pundits in stitches and also many on social media who labelled the joke as “epic”.
But many were outraged claiming Thomas was making light of a horrible incident, which wouldn’t be condoned in the workplace.
Former England five-eighth Andy Goode led the condemnation.
Imagine if someone touched another man or woman up in the workplace and then someone joked about it on TV. People have admiration for Gareth Thomas with what he’s been through and opened up about but I wonder if something similar was done in a homophobic way he’d joke about it?— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) March 7, 2020
Gareth Thomas’ joke was brilliant & such a step forward for LGBTQ sports people but Joe Marler’s actions were so far beyond inappropriate, we can appreciate one whist condemning the other even if they’re interconnected #ENGvWAL— Jennie Westbrook (@JennieWestbrook) March 7, 2020
Very dissappointed with Gareth Thomas's reaction to this incident !! pic.twitter.com/FNLDXrQL2e— Bedwyr Morgan (@BedwyrMorgan) March 7, 2020
The reaction of the pundits was appalling and Gareth Thomas was just disgusting https://t.co/O2MyebTC5Z— Dougie Morrison (@morrison_dougie) March 7, 2020
That Gareth Thomas line might've been the best thing I've ever heard from a rugby pundit.— Georgia Gillard (@TheGeorgeuh) March 7, 2020
Disappointing reaction from Gareth Thomas, what could have been a learning moment or even a debate about behaviour on the pitch has now been laughed off as if that was appropriate behaviour in any space. Really weird. #ENGvWAL— Roisin (@Roisin929) March 7, 2020
very true, well done mighty wyn keeping his cool, and as for Gareth Thomas, he took one for the team of presenters, no more than Good Crack at Humour on the spot,well done https://t.co/SbMw53Xpcr— Gary morris (@Garymor12028255) March 7, 2020
Fair play Gareth Thomas 😂😂😂😂— Alfie Smith (@keeppushing69) March 7, 2020
Gareth Thomas' response to this was classic though!— Jimmy Jammy (@JimmyJa90540970) March 7, 2020
Eddie Jones fumes over England red
The match between the great rivals was simmering throughout and Eddie Jones didn’t hide his frustration at the referee following the match after England looked to be cruising to victory but were reduced to 13 men after a yellow card for prop Ellis Genge after a succession of penalties and the red for Tuilagi with about five minutes remaining.
Tuilagi as he crashed his shoulder into the head of George North while making a try-saving tackle.
New Zealand referee Ben O'Keefe referee had a long discussion with South African television match official Marius Jonker before ruling that although North was low to the ground, there were "no mitigating circumstances" that prevented him sending off the powerful centre.
That led to Wales scoring two tries and 14 unanswered points in the final minutes of the game.
Jones said things were made particularly difficult as it "ended up as "13 against 16".
Asked to elaborate, he told journalists: "You work it out.
"I find it bizarre, I usually don't comment, but I don't see how you can tackle a guy," Jones said.
"How else are you supposed to tackle him?
"This bit about where your arms are - what a load of rubbish.
"I think there's no common sense applied in that situation. It's absolute rubbish.
"Clearly the guy's falling, there's a good chop tackle, Manu's coming over the top to kill the tackle and doing everything he's supposed to be doing - come on!
"When you have a three-man advantage it's going to do some damage, so I thought we were exceptional. It was a good, tough win."