Joe Marler found himself at the centre of controversy on his return from his two-week ban for his "Gypsy Boy" comment to Wales prop Samson Lee by appearing to kick Grenoble hooker Arnaud Heguy in the head as Harlequins booked their place in the final of the European Challenge Cup with a comfortable victory over the French Top 14 side last night.

Marler's impressive return to club action was marred when television replays showed him making contact with the head of Heguy as the Frenchman lay on the ground.

The England prop was not penalised by Irish referee John Lacey but is likely to face a post-match citing that could bring his domestic ­campaign to a premature end.

The citing commissioner, Iain Goodall, has 48 hours to take action while Grenoble can refer the incident within 24 hours.


The entry-point ban for the lowest-range offence of kicking an opponent is four weeks, which would rule Marler of the final against either Montpellier or Newport Gwent Dragons, who face each other on Saturday, in Lyon on May 13.

The entry point for a mid-range offence is eight weeks, which would rule Marler out of England's tour of ­Australia in June.

Conor O'Shea, the Harlequins ­director of rugby, said the club did not condone foul play but insisted that the incident did not deserve a red card, the standard for a citing.

"Things happen, we never condone it, but if that is a red card there's a heck of a lot of things that happen on the pitch that are worse," he said.

"So I'd focus on the positives, I'll have a word with him, but there are things that happen on the ground. He got up, he did something, but it wasn't a red card."

The controversy took some of the sheen off the victory for Harlequins, who maintained their hopes sending off O'Shea, who is leaving after six years to become head coach of Italy, with a trophy.

Harlequins have won this competition three times and will be favourites for the final, when the winners will be guaranteed a place in the Champions' Cup next season.

- The Telegraph