Contrite Joe Marler tweets apology to Lee over 'Gypsy Boy' slur
Joe Marler has apologised for calling Wales prop Samson Lee a "Gypsy Boy", and insisted he is not a racist ahead of a World Rugby misconduct hearing today.
Harlequins front-rower Marler escaped with a reprimand after insulting Scarlets prop Lee in England's 25-21 win over Wales last month, but could face a retrospective ban from World Rugby.
Marler took to Twitter on the eve of the hearing to apologise, adding that he would accept the ruling from the governing body.
He wrote: "I'm not a racist. What I said to Samson was out of order and wrong and I am sorry it was said. We shook hands at the end of the game and looked to move on. Whatever happens to me, I will accept.
"I'm sorry to anyone who was offended. Saying it was in the 'heat of the moment' isn't an excuse, but one comment, one mistake, does not make me a racist. My wife, kids, family and friends (yes, I do have some friends) know this."
Marler avoided a potential four-week suspension after Six Nations chiefs judged his remorse, apology at half-time during the Wales match and subsequent admonishing by England as sufficient punishment.
However, World Rugby's move to launch independent action outlined a level of dissatisfaction with that move, leaving the Six Nations disciplinary process under almost as much scrutiny as Marler himself.
Quins boss Conor O'Shea has offered a staunch defence of Marler, insisting his player is in no way racist, and also claiming Lee hurled abuse at Marler in their heated exchange during the Wales match.
Meanwhile, England and Saracens lock George Kruis has been cited for an alleged bite in last Friday's Aviva Premiership clash at Bath.
Kruis will appear before a three-man RFU disciplinary panel in Bristol today - as will Bath prop David Wilson, who has been cited for allegedly making contact with the eye or eye area of Kruis.
The lower-end sanction if a biting offence is found proven is a 12-week suspension, according to RFU regulations.
That would end Kruis' season and his hopes of an England place on the June tour to Australia.
The penalty former England prop Wilson faces if found guilty of gouging - making contact with eye(s) or eye area - is the same.
Saracens are preparing for Saturday's European Champions Cup quarter-final with Northampton and Kruis is a key figure in their quest to advance.
The 26-year-old played in all five matches as Eddie Jones' England claimed their first Grand Slam in 13 years.