‘Bad boy’ Dylan Hartley named England captain for Six Nations
England on Monday named Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley, the “bad boy” of English rugby, captain for the Six Nations Championship despite him missing more than a year of his career for disciplinary bans.
Hartley, 29, replaced Chris Robshaw after the Harlequins flanker was criticised for his role in England’s disastrous World Cup last year when they crashed out in the first round. Hartley missed the tournament because of suspension.
“Dylan is an honest, hardworking bloke and I admire his aggressive and uncompromising approach to playing rugby,” head coach Eddie Jones of his new appointee.
Asked if he was taking a chance on Hartley, the Australian, England’s first overseas coach, told a news conference: “The biggest risk is not to take a risk.”
New Zealand-born Hartley has been capped 66 times, but has amassed a staggering 54 weeks of suspensions for offences including eye-gouging, biting and swearing at a referee. He missed two World Cups and the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour of Australia through bad behaviour.
However, he was sorely missed during England’s woeful World Cup campaign on home soil. His first match in charge, a February 6 clash away to Scotland will also be Jones’ first game in charge of the side.
“It is a huge honour to captain England and a very proud day for me and my family,” said Hartley, who led the side on one previous occasion – against South Africa in 2012.
“I’m really excited about the challenge ahead, but in reality leading this squad of players will not fall just to me.
“It’s essential for the success of this team that we quickly develop and establish a strong leadership group.
“There is a lot of young talent and potential which is great to see. Our focus over the next two weeks is to work hard and prepare for the Scotland game.
“Playing at Murrayfield will be a huge challenge and one we are all looking forward to.”
Hartley who moved to England from New Zealand as a 16-year-old, was Northampton captain from 2009-14.
He has missed seven weeks of this season through concussion and sat out one more game with a rib problem, but started Saints’ last two matches against Glasgow and the Scarlets.
“I am delighted to announce Dylan as England captain. I know it will be a very proud moment for him, his club, his family and friends when he leads England out at Murrayfield,” Jones said.
“As a former captain of Northampton and someone who has a lot of experience playing for England I have every faith he will lead the team tactically and passionately.
“We look forward to working very closely with him to build a successful England team.”