Dylan Hartley named England captain for Six Nations
Eddie Jones chooses hooker with history of disciplinary issues to replace Chris Robshaw
Dylan Hartley has been named as England captain for the Six Nations, replacing Chris Robshaw. Photograph: Afp
The Northampton hooker has been expected to take over the role from Chris Robshaw for a couple of months now having emerged as the man new head coach Eddie Jones wants to lead the team under his charge. The Rugby Football Union confirmed the decision on Monday afternoon.
“It is a huge honour to captain England and a very proud day for me and my family,” said Hartley. “I’m really excited about the challenge ahead but in reality leading this squad of players will not fall just to me.
“It is essential for the success of this team that we quickly develop and establish a strong leadership group. There are a number of guys in this squad who will all have important leadership roles to play so we can take this team forward.
“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’s appointment is somewhat controversial given his disciplinary record – the 29-year-old has amassed 54 weeks of suspension for offences including eye-gouging, biting, punching, elbowing, head-butting and swearing at a referee. Hartley’s lack of self-control has meant him missing out on the 2013 Lions tour to Australia and last year’s World Cup.
Nevertheless, Jones clearly feels the player – who was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, and has made 66 Test appearances – has the necessary qualities to be England’s captain in yet another new era for the international team. England kick-off their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Murrayfield on 6 February.
“I know it will be a very proud moment for him, his club, his family and friends when he leads England out at Murrayfield,” said Jones. “As a former captain of Northampton Saints and someone who has a lot of experience playing for England I have every faith he will lead the team tactically and passionately. English rugby is indebted to Northampton to have produced such a fine player.
“Dylan is an honest, hardworking bloke and I admire his aggressive and uncompromising approach to playing rugby. Together with Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard, we think he has all the qualities needed to lead this group of players. We look forward to working very closely with him to build a successful England team.”
Robshaw was made captain by former head coach Stuart Lancaster but came under criticism for some of his decision making, most notably in England’s defeat to Wales at the World Cup when he opted to kick a late penalty to the corner which significantly contributed to a crucial defeat for the hosts.