After three rounds of the Aviva Premiership, the biggest story of the young season is the incident that saw James Haskell attempt to throttle England teammate Joe Marler.
The first half incident saw the pair get up close and personal, with scrum cap pulling, water throwing and throat grabbing, before Haskell was shown yellow for his loss of cool. For his England compatriot Marler, no reprimand for his incendiary behaviour came from the referee.
Though the pair let their confrontation float away like water under the bridge with a genuine embrace at the end of Harlequins 24 – 21 victory over the home side, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) have decided to impose sanctions on Marler for his involvement in the incident.
The RFU confirmed the Harlequins prop has been handed the equivalent of a yellow card for goading Haskell on Sunday, or as the Wasps flanker himself puts it, “choked me with my scrum cap [and] squirted water in my face”.
The off-the-field sanction amounts to little more than a telling off for the England and British and Irish Lions front row forward, though three such reprimands will result in a one-match suspension.
For his part in the incident, Marler did appear the man more in control of his temper and was more than happy to allow Haskell to let the red mist descend, leaving the referee with little option other than to give him ten minutes to cool off in the sin bin.
The RFU’s sanction, however, does indeed balance the incident a little more with regard to Marler’s involvement.