England prop Joe Marler opens up about 2016 "gypsy boy" episode

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England prop Joe Marler says speaking openly with close friends enabled him to overcome the 2016 “gypsy boy” episode which tarnished his career.

The 28-year-old, who has 59 England caps, was speaking as Harlequins joined the Movember Foundation to launch a ‘Be a Man of More Words’ campaign, raising awareness for World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10.

Marler was joined in a video by Quins team-mates Dave Ward, Danny Care and Mark Lambert in speaking openly about their personal experiences, with Marler reflecting on the March 2016 incident where he insulted Wales’ Samson Lee by calling him a “gypsy boy”.

“It hasn’t always been easy,” Marler said.

“My personality is I can be very outgoing, very happy, sociable, but then I can quite easily buckle under pressure, get quite low and spiral.

“I’m now in a place where I’m far more in control of my day-to-day outlook on things.

“A huge part of that was being able to talk to my friends. They’ve enabled me to be in a position now where I’m capable of coping with that.”

Marler apologised for the incident in England’s 25-21 win at Twickenham, while Lee’s interpretation was that the comments were intended as banter, rather than malicious.

The England prop was banned for two weeks and fined £20,000 after World Rugby intervened in a disciplinary case which had initially seen Marler cleared by a Six Nations panel.

The subsequent fallout and a further ban for kicking Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy in the head saw Marler opt out of the June 2016 tour to Australia with the blessing of England head coach Eddie Jones.

Marler responded by playing the best rugby of his career, earning a place on the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, although he served eight weeks’ worth of bans last season, missing England’s first two Six Nations matches.

Marler added: “I spent a huge amount of that time discussing things with my wife, trying to get through that, but also my close friends around me about the problems I was experiencing at the time and how I was going to get through it and move forward.

“For me, without those guys that I was able to talk to, I wouldn’t have been able to get through those tough points in my career and in my life.”

Fatherhood has given Danny Care more perspective.

Fatherhood has given Danny Care more perspective.

Care spoke how fatherhood had changed him. The scrum-half was reprimanded by then England head coach Stuart Lancaster following his December 2011 arrest for a late night incident.

“Becoming a dad, for me just put everything in perspective,” Care said.

“Everything changed for me, my whole outlook on how I was as a person. I wasn’t a bad person, but I made a few bad decisions. For me the main realisation was someone is going to be dependent on me and I want to make that person proud and do best by my child.

“Now all my decisions I make I put my family first. That’s the biggest thing for me. Being a father you have to put other people first.”

The Movember Foundation, Harlequins Foundation and Harlequins join forces to ‘Stop Men Dying too Young’. For more information head to: www.movember.com

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England's pursuit of Rugby World Cup glory to be aided by learning Japanese

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Eddie Jones is making his staff take Japanese lessons to assist England‘s pursuit of Rugby World Cup glory next year.

Forwards coach Steve Borthwick and scrum mastermind Neal Hatley are among those members of the back room team who started learning the language last week ahead of Japan 2019.

England’s World Cup campaign opens against Tonga in Sapporo on September 22 and Jones believes the tactic will have a knock-on effect for the playing squad.

“All the staff – everyone – had Japanese lessons last Tuesday. We have got another one in a couple of weeks,” Jones said.

“Steve Borthwick is quite good. He’s a bright guy and he coached Japan with me for a couple of years.

“The World Cup is about enjoying the tournament and the more you enjoy the tournament the more you can create a positive atmosphere – which is the staff’s responsibility – then the more chance you have of being successful.

“The players are going to be stressed, they are going to find heat stress, they are going to find cultural stress.

“It’s our job as a staff to create a situation where we minimise that stress as much as possible, so all the preparation we are doing now is about trying to find ways we can minimise the stress for the players.”

Jones jokes that he has been banned from using the language by his Japanese wife Hiroko.

“She doesn’t let me speak to my dog in Japanese because she says I speak such bad Japanese. Mine is very rough,” Jones said.

“I can speak and understand it well enough. I did all the training in Japanese and probably 60 per cent of the team meetings, but very rough. A bit like my English.”

It has been confirmed by Premiership Ruby chief executive Mark McCafferty that England’s 2020 summer tour – the first to take place under the new global season structure – will comprise of two Tests in Japan.

The new rugby calendar is expected to be unveiled later this month and one of the features is a reduction in Tests.

“We do think there are too many international games, we would do anyway but I think part of trying to have these discussions globally around the structure was to strike that right balance,” McCafferty said.

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Liam Williams and John Cooney top performers from round two of Premiership and PRO14 matches

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On a weekend in which Saracens and Ulster sealed dramatic late wins, there were some excellent individual displays in both the Premiership and PRO14 leagues.

From a superb attacking display from Saracens’ Liam Williams to another inspiring performance by John Cooney, we’ve picked out the top performers from the latest round of fixtures.

LIAM WILLIAMS (Saracens)

The Wales international came off the bench to score a stunning 26 minute hat-trick in Saracens 44-23 win over Bristol.

The 27-year-old was introduced for Alex Lewington on 52 minutes to complete his successful return from a groin injury – and made an impression immediately.

All three of Williams’ tries came from close range, with the London side moving back to the top of the table alongside last season’s finalists Exeter.

JOHN COONEY (Ulster)

The 28-year-old produced a man-of-the-match performance for the second week in a row in Ulster’s thrilling 30-29 win over Edinburgh.

Trailing by two points deep into injury time, Cooney nailed the vital kick to rack up 20 points from a try, three conversions and three penalties.

Incredibly, the former Leinster man made over 110 passes for the second straight game – this time 123 – more than any other scrum-half in the world over the course of the weekend.

GEORGE FORD (Leicester)

The England international gave Geordan Murphy the perfect start to life as interim head coach as Leicester overcame Newcastle 49-33 in a thrilling contest at Welford Road.

Central to their victory was fly-half Ford who starred with 29 points, including an early try, three conversions and six penalties.

Apart from his contribution from the kicking tee, the 25-year-old looked to stretch the defensive line at every opportunity, making 81 metres and beating nine defenders.

DANNY CIPRIANI (Gloucester)

The 30-year-old shone in front of England boss Eddie Jones, creating the leveling try for winger Matt Banahan and generally being at the centre of his team’s attacking exploits in their 31-31 draw with Bath.

The fly-half orchestrated the game superbly in his second appearance for the cherry and whites, with the sharpness of his play leading to a string of penalties that Billy Twelvetrees converted.

Cipriani kicked positively all afternoon and showed his magic touch to put Banahan over in the corner with a no-look pass.

PAUL BOYLE (Connacht)

The 21-year-old’s brace sealed Connacht’s first win of the PRO14 season against Zebre at the Sportsgrounds.

The Wexford man was excellent in pre-season and transferred that form into the domestic season – crossing for two tries in the opening half in just his second start for Andy Friend’s side.

Boyle struck for the dominant Westeners after nine minutes, before doubling his account on 21 minutes to leave Connacht in command against the struggling Italians.

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