Today I am breaking this season’s duck as the Rust’s correspondent upon all things to do with Harlequins FC in response to the overnight new that loose-head prop Joe Marler has announced his retirement from international rugby with immediate effect in order to spend more time with his young family.
Marler is a Sussex boy who came up through the Quins academy to fame and fortune (plus 59 caps for England and selection for the British & Irish Lions 2017 tour to New Zealand) as a talismatic character and favourite of Quins supporters over the past decade.
In many respects for rugby aficionados everywhere he came straight from Central Casting, seemingly confirming the fond and widespread folklore that a qualifying feature of being one of the thick-set yeomen who ply their trade in the front row is that they need to be both of limited intelligence and slightly unhinged.
As an example, only a game or so ago a BT Sports commentator, referring to a recently-arrived front row native of Georgia playing for Bath, mentioned in passing that apparently he was having a few issues with learning the English language. Quick as a flash Richard Kay, his pundit colleague in the commentary box – himself a former Leicester Tigers and England lock of some standing – quipped “A lot of props are like that”.
I’m not saying he doesn’t have a weird, quirky sense of humour sometimes evidenced by his penchant for wacky hairstyles – he once played in a game at Twickenham Stadium sporting a Mohican with an advertisement for the Jolly Hog (hog-roast) business of fellow Quin Ollie Kohn stamped around the sides of his head.
Today I want to pay tribute to Marler and wish him well in his retirement from international rugby at (for a prop) the youthful age of only 28 and with his best propping years (28 to 33) potentially still to come.
This is not to say that throughout his career he hasn’t had problems staying on the right side of the disciplinary authorities. In his early twenties the red mist would not infrequently come down and at times he became something of a liability as regards yellow and red cards.
Over the years he has twice taken time out for anger management courses or counselling and even in Quins’ most recent Premiership game (a disappointing away loss against Bristol Bears) he spent ten minutes in the sin-bin for a forearm smash upon a would-be tackler.
To finish (as a tribute) I’d like to link Rusters to an interview with Marler, answering Facebook questions from fans, courtesy of – YOUTUBE