England legend Neil Back has urged rugby’s authorities to use the coronavirus-enforced break to address the sport’s warped disciplinary system.
“The last round of the Six Nations has created some question marks over the laws of the game in terms of bans and now that no matches are being played, there’s time to look at these issues,” Back told the PA news agency.
“If you look at the bans given to the players and then the comments Eddie Jones made, they are all out of kilter and need looking at.
If the World has gone mad, what punishment, if any would you suggest to stop hundreds of thousands kids playing this weekend to understand that it’s not ok to repeat on the rugby field what Joe did?— Neil Back MBE (@NeilBack) March 13, 2020
“Eddie gets a rap over the knuckles, but no ban. Joe Marler – we all know his intentions there and the character he is. There was no malicious intent, it was just playful.
“All the incidents were worthy of bans, but if Joe Marler gets 10 weeks, Eddie Jones gets nothing, Manu gets four and the French guy who punches someone in the face gets three, then it doesn’t seem right.
“It needs looking at because is touching someone in an inappropriate area three times worse than punching someone in the head? It doesn’t sit right for me.”
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The lack of meaningful repercussions for Jones, despite respect and sportsmanship being listed as two of Twickenham’s five ‘core values’, has been widely condemned.
“Eddie’s been a breath of fresh air and has done more things right than wrong, but he doesn’t help himself. He needs to stop and pause to think about what he’s saying,” Back said.
“If you don’t do something about it, then people will think it’s OK. What Eddie Jones said and did is not OK, nor was what Joe Marler did OK. It’s about how they are punished.”