Joe Marler has been handed a 10-week suspension for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones' genitals during England's Six Nations win over Wales.

England were 33-30 winners at Twickenham on Saturday, but there were a number of flashpoints throughout the match, with the hosts reduced to 13 men by the final whistle after Ellis Genge went to the sin bin and Manu Tuilagi was sent off.

One incident missed by the officials concerned Jones and prop forward Marler, who appeared to grab at the Wales captain's crotch, though there was no action from the officials. 

After the incident was cited for further review, Marler appeared before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin on Thursday and subsequently received a ban until June 8.

Marler, who did not accept that the incident warranted a red card, has the right to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Tuilagi also appeared before the disciplinary committee. The centre likewise did not accept his tackle on George North warranted a red card, but his appeal was rejected and he is suspended for four weeks.

Courtney Lawes was also cited following the match for a dangerous tackle on Jones.

However, the committee agreed that Lawes' tackle, while an act of foul play, was not worthy of a red card.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac hailed captain Alun Wyn Jones as the "ultimate professional" ahead of his record-equalling cap in this weekend's clash with Scotland.

Jones has been named in Wales' team for Saturday's Six Nations game in Cardiff, which is set to go ahead as planned despite the competition's other two matches being postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The 34-year-old will match New Zealand icon Richie McCaw's tally of 148 Tests when running out at the Principality Stadium, nine of those coming for the British and Irish Lions.

And Pivac has paid tribute to influential skipper Jones, who made his Wales debut against Argentina almost 14 years ago.

"You just need to speak to anybody he plays against and they'll tell you what it's like to play against him," Pivac said at a news conference on Thursday.

"They hold him in high regard. I've seen first-hand what Alun Wyn does, not only on the field but in terms of training and our environment, in terms of his leadership off the field. 

"What he does is just huge. At training, the whistle blows and we'll shift from one drill to another and he's up and sprinting, the first guy there every single time.

"Then you see in a game, when he gets up off the ground, he's gone. He's the ultimate professional. 

"Every country will have someone who they will say is the ultimate professional, and in Wales, he is that guy.

"Equalling the record will be a proud moment for him and, all being well, he'll break that record and that will be an even prouder moment."

Jones will be joined in the second row by Cory Hill for Wales' concluding Six Nations fixture, as Pivac makes four changes from the 33-30 defeat to England last weekend.

Uncapped Sale Sharks prop WillGriff John and fellow front-rower Wyn Jones are also included, while scrum-half Rhys Webb will make his first Wales start since November 2017.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting XV.

Stuart McInally and Magnus Bradbury have been brought into the side following last week's 28-17 win over France, while Sam Skinner will make his first start of the campaign.

"Wales are the Six Nations champions and came very close to making a World Cup final," Townsend told reporters.

"Are we underdogs? I would have thought so. We're ranked below them in the world rankings and have not won there for a long time.

"The players want to carry on the good work we've been doing and also go to a place where they have never won before and play our best game of the season."

 

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, WillGriff John, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain), Sean Maitland, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally, Zander Fagerson; Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Allan Dell, Willem Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Duncan Weir, Kyle Steyn.

Alun Wyn Jones is hopeful World Rugby will investigate an incident in which England's Joe Marler appeared to grab the Wales captain's genitals during Saturday's Six Nations match.

England were 33-30 winners at Twickenham, but there were a number of flashpoints in a clash that ended with the hosts down to 13 men after Ellis Genge went to the sin bin and Manu Tuilagi was sent off.

One incident missed by the officials concerned Jones and Marler.

Television pictures caught Marler apparently grabbing Jones' crotch, prompting a bemused expression from the Wales veteran but no action.

"I've got 138 Tests for my country," Jones told a post-match news conference. "If I react, I get a red card. It's tough, isn't it?

"Hopefully World Rugby have a look at it. Joe's a good bloke, lots of things happen on a rugby field.

"It's difficult as a captain these days because you can't speak to a ref about anything, it feels. I look at the touch judge. Obviously he didn't see what happened, and that's fine.

"There's a lot of footage that has been shown. It seems like a lot of supporters saw what happened.

"It's very frustrating that we talk a lot about TMOs and footage reviews, yet there doesn't seem to be a lot of it happening."

World Rugby's laws state the punishment for "grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals" starts at 12 weeks.

Alun Wyn Jones revealed frustrations with Wales' first-half sloppiness after they succumbed to England on Saturday, suffering a third straight Six Nations defeat.

Grand Slam champions in 2019, Wales have endured a disappointing campaign this year despite crushing strugglers Italy in their opening match.

Defeats to Ireland, France and now England put paid to any hopes of defending their title, and captain Jones was particularly exasperated by his side's latest reverse.

Wales went down 33-30 at Twickenham, but only late tries against 13 men narrowed England's lead after Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi - later dismissed - crossed for the hosts.

Jones suggested Wales were always struggling to recover from an opening period in which Watson scored inside four minutes and Daly added to the home advantage.

He also highlighted the repeated penalties that allowed Owen Farrell and George Ford to keep the scoreboard ticking over for England.

"I was lamenting a couple of territory giveaways in the first half," the Wales captain told ITV Sport. "We gave them two possessions in the 22, went to two lineouts, and it was two tries.

"You're chasing the game a little bit. Then we got the three to stay on the scoreboard at the end of the half and then a great riposte at the start of the second half.

"Unfortunately, they obviously capitalised on a couple of our indisciplines in our 22 and kept the scoreboard at bay.

"It shows what we can do with those last two tries. If we keep the ball, we can score. It's just too little, too late, in the end."

However, England star Ben Youngs paid tribute to Wales as they refused to give up on a seemingly lost cause.

"Whenever we started to feel like we got ascendancy or control, Wales are so good at just staying in the fight, and they stayed in and battled hard," Youngs said.

"Our discipline probably just gave them easy leg-ups. They're clinical enough to punish you and it showed in the last 20 minutes, where we were basically camped in our own 22 and couldn't get out. It was tight in the end."

Wayne Pivac believes a step up in intensity in training has him sure his Wales side will come up with the goods in their Six Nations clash with England.

Wales have lost their last two Tests, going down to Ireland and France respectively heading into Saturday's contest at Twickenham, where they have not won in eight years.

However, Pivac has sensed a change in mentality from his side during their recent training sessions, with the coach signalling out captain Alun Wyn Jones as the epitome of this shift to a more intense approach.

"The level of intensity has noticeably gone up in training, certainly in the live stuff and it has been no holds barred," Pivac, who replaced Warren Gatland after the Rugby World Cup, told reporters.

"No one has been holding back. That tells me a big performance is coming.

"You've only got to listen to Alun Wyn during the week. The intensity is there in his voice and everything he's done in training. He's led from the front."

Saturday's game will be the first time Pivac has gone up against England as a coach, though he does not think Eddie Jones' team will hold many surprises for his side.

"With my background coming from New Zealand we look at England like the Welsh do," said Pivac.

"They're a strong team, one of the world leaders, and a very capable team as we saw at the World Cup against the All Blacks and last week against Ireland. They put away two of the top teams in the world comfortably.

"There is a healthy respect, but it's a game we're looking forward to. Me included."

Rugby World Cup finalists South Africa and England are represented in nominations for World Rugby's Player of the Year award.

With the shortlists for the Coach of the Year and Team of the Year awards having been announced on Thursday, World Rugby revealed the six nominees for the individual men's award on Friday.

South Africa's Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe – who has overcome an injury to feature in Rassie Erasmus' line-up for Saturday's final – are the two Springboks up for the accolade.

Tom Curry is England's sole representative, with the 21-year-old having started in 13 of 14 Tests for Eddie Jones' side this year.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones – his country's most-capped player – is also included, as is New Zealand star Ardie Savea.

The final spot is taken by Joe Taufete'e of the United States, who became the most prolific try scorer in front-row history when he went over for a hat-trick against Uruguay.

Ireland's Johnny Sexton won the 2018 award, having ended Beauden Barrett's two-year spell as the world's best player.

Like the Coach and Team of the Year awards, the winner of the Player of the Year accolade will be confirmed on Sunday in Tokyo.

Warren Gatland believes South Africa have a very good chance of beating England in the Rugby World Cup final but warned the Springboks might need a more expansive approach to the one that saw off Wales 19-16.

An immaculate goalkicking performance from Handre Pollard saw the Boks edge a war of attrition in Sunday's semi-final to book a showdown with England, who stunned reigning champions New Zealand in somewhat contrasting style on Saturday.

Gatland, who will step down after 12 years in charge of Wales after the third-place match against the All Blacks, had no qualms over South Africa's tactics, where box kicks from Pollard and tenacious scrum-half Faf de Klerk were to the fore.

"They've got the physicality to match England, although I thought England were outstanding against the All Blacks. They've got a very good chance," he told a news conference after Damian de Allende and Josh Adams ran in a try apiece for their respective sides.

"They need to be a bit more expansive in terms of the way they want to play. They had a pretty simple game plan against us: using De Allende in terms of from the scrums and a lot of box-kicking from De Klerk and Pollard as well.

"It was very effective and for them it was about doing everything they could to make the final."

After four consecutive wins against South Africa, Gatland expected another close encounter.

Wales were unable to add the distinction of becoming World Cup finalists in a 2019 where they won the Six Nations Grand Slam and briefly stood as the number one side in the world.

Nevertheless, Gatland rejected the suggestion those exertions had taken a decisive toll.

"With 76 minutes on the clock at 16-16 I thought we had a bit of momentum," he said. "We were in their half and it was a big turnover from a breakdown where we haven't kicked the ball.

"From there they've managed to get a penalty from a lineout drive. For me, I felt the longer the game went on we would get an opportunity.

"Those games against South Africa that we've had in the past five or six years have been very similar. We've been in close, tight encounters that could have gone either way and congratulations to South Africa, they're the ones who came out on top."

When Gatland bows out against the country of his birth on Friday, the weight of a glorious era comprising three Grand Slams will be heavy.

"I'm hurting, obviously disappointed but we've still got an opportunity to make a bit of history," said veteran captain Alun Wyn Jones.

"There's no real consolation but we move on and make the most of the next opportunity to put this red jersey on that means so much."

Gatland added: "We're very disappointed but I'm incredibly proud of what we've achieved in this World Cup and what this group of players have done.

"The dream was [to make the final] my last game, but it's not to be. We need to recover over the next couple of days and enjoy it against the All Blacks."

Warren Gatland had mixed news on the injury front as he named the Wales team for their Rugby World Cup semi-final, welcoming back Jonathan Davies but forced to do without Liam Williams.

Wales face South Africa in Yokohama on Sunday looking to reach the World Cup final for the first time.

Davies is back in Gatland's XV after missing the narrow last-eight victory over France with a recurrence of an earlier knee injury.

However, Williams is out of this clash and the remainder of the tournament due to a training-ground injury.

Wales reported Williams had suffered the blow to his ankle in an accidental collision and a prognosis was still to be established.

That blow sees Leigh Halfpenny come into the side at full-back, joining Josh Adams and George North in the back three.

Wales had already lost Josh Navidi to a torn hamstring against France, meaning Ross Moriarty's inclusion is the third and final change to the side.

Gatland's men will be led by Alun Wyn Jones, who is earning his 142nd Test cap - including nine for the British and Irish Lions.

He moves to joint-second on the all-time worldwide list, tied with Italy's Sergio Parisse behind former All Black Richie McCaw (148).

Gareth Davies gets his 50th cap.


Wales team: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Aaron Shingler, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

Warren Gatland was delighted to see Wales edge past Australia in a bruising Rugby World Cup encounter he acknowledged they might well have lost previously.

The Six Nations Grand Slam champions raced out to a 23-8 half-time lead before Australia built momentum in the second period and set up a nervy finish with tries from Dane Haylett-Petty and Michael Hooper.

But Wales clung on to take a 29-25 victory and seize control of Pool D, potentially avoiding England and New Zealand in the quarter-finals and semis.

Gatland saw this as the type of clash Wales would have come up short in prior to the last 12 months in which they have forged a steely reputation, also beating Australia in a Test last November.

"It was pretty special," he told ITV Sport. "It was a good first half and we hung on in the second half.

"Australia came at us and the boys are pretty sore and battered in the changing rooms. It was a really tough physical game - and those are the ones in the past that we've been losing.

"It was nice to hold on at the end and I thought our bench were fantastic and gave us some real momentum and fresh legs when we needed them."

He added: "We're really pleased to get that win - it takes a little of the pressure off us. Now we're kind of in control of our own destiny in terms of what happens."

Alun Wyn Jones, making a record 130th appearance, praised Wales' character but was slightly concerned by another "tentative" second half.

Wales had similarly built a big lead against Georgia before slowing after the break, their 29-point half-time advantage failing to increase as they won 43-14.

"I'm pretty happy with the character we showed - particularly in the second half," Jones said.

"At times, it did feel a bit like the Georgia game, where we had a great first half and were a bit tentative in the second half. We'll have a look at that, but I'm pleased with the result."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.