Thursday 22 February 2018

WATCH: James Haskell chokes England teammate Joe Marler after heated scuffle

Joe Marler of Harlequins clashes with James Haskell of Wasps during the Aviva Premiership match between Wasps and Harlequins at The Ricoh Arena on September 17, 2017 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Joe Marler of Harlequins clashes with James Haskell of Wasps during the Aviva Premiership match between Wasps and Harlequins at The Ricoh Arena on September 17, 2017 in Coventry, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Dai Young hit out at Joe Marler for goading James Haskell into a yellow card in Wasps' 24-21 Aviva Premiership loss to Harlequins.

Wasps flanker Haskell was left incensed at his yellow card for throttling England team-mate Marler off the ball, after tussling with the Quins prop on the ground.

Haskell insisted Marler had choked him with the strap of his scrum cap, before squirting him in the face with water.

While Haskell was sent to the sin-bin, Marler's actions went unpunished - leaving Wasps boss Young to lament that decision.

He said: "What you want from referees is consistency, and I've got to be honest I thought he was consistent - he gave us nothing all game and that's all you can ask for really!

"I think if someone rips your hat off then squirts water in your face, what do you expect? I just thought it was very harsh on James Haskell.

"There comes a time when you've got to look at the guys that spark these things up, not somebody that's going to take exception to someone ripping their hat off and squirting water in their face."

Teen fly-half Marcus Smith slotted two late penalties as Quins edged a tight encounter in Coventry, with Wasps surrendering their 20-match home winning streak in the league.

Quins were left sweating on a rib injury to Marler, while Wasps lost flanker Alex Rieder to a dislocated shoulder, Guy Thompson to a dead leg and Danny Cipriani to a knee problem.

Young always knew Wasps would eventually lose that 100 per cent home league record that dated back to December 2015, but was left frustrated by Haskell and Marler's unsavoury encounter.

"There was a lot going on, lots of yapping; I don't think it helps the game, I don't like that," said Young.

"We've all watched James (Haskell) play over the years, he doesn't react to much.

"But you could see he was pretty annoyed, and more annoyed for getting a yellow card for reacting. And by the way he didn't throw a punch, he just grabbed the guy.

"He's probably got better restraint than I would have had."

Quins rugby director John Kingston defended Marler's feisty attitude, despite admitting he had not seen the Haskell flashpoint in any detail.

"I didn't see it to be honest with you - it's an Arsene Wenger moment, but I didn't," said Kingston. "All I saw was a skirmish on the floor.

"It was very important for us to be very physical, very confrontational, but also to make sure we were on the right side of the line. By the end, that just about happened."

Marler has worked hard to address discipline issues since pulling out of England's summer tour to Australia in 2016, and has largely cleaned up his act.

Kingston insisted Quins do not want Marler to lose that combative edge, but admitted the Londoners often have their hands full keeping Marler and fellow Lions prop Kyle Sinckler on the straight and narrow.

Quins managed to ride out a late sin-binning for Sinckler, but Kingston conceded the men from The Stoop must remain vigilant around their charged-up front-rowers.

"It's one you're always battling, but it's so much part of their game," said Kingston of Marler and Sinckler.

"Rugby's a physical sport, that's why we love it and that's why they're such wonderful players.

"I was more disappointed that Joe went off with a rib injury.

"We don't know the extent of it yet, but he's a brave lad and for him to leave the field it must have been hurting him."

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