Tuesday 4 April 2017

Dylan Hartley

Dylan Michael Hartley

Hooker - England & Northampton Saints
most capped hooker in England rugby history

Born: 24th March 1986
Mother: Caroline
Father: Guy
Brothers: Blair & Alex
Fiancé: Joanne Tromans
Daughter: Thea (18 months)

Weight: 110kg (17.5 St)
Height: 1.85M (6'1")

England Captain 

84 Caps and 2 Tries
Grand Slam, Triple Crown & 2 Six Nations Championships
3-0 Series White-Wash in Australia
Unbeaten Autumn International Series
World Record 18 Game Win Streak

Northampton Saints Captain

222 Caps and 22 Tries
Heineken Cup Winner
Champions Cup Winner
Premiership Champion

Dylan was born in New Zealand on 24th March 1986. He grew up in Kaharoa, remote, even by New Zealand standards and attended Rotorua Boy's High School. In 2002, he entered into conversations with a touring Sussex team, and his dream of playing rugby for England (the home of his mother and her family), took its first step towards reality. 

He qualified for England through his mother, Caroline. His aunt and uncle lived in Crowborough, East Sussex, where he promptly moved after graduating high school. 

Through them he met Jon Pass, the coach at the local club and Beacon Rugby Academy. Even at the age of 15, it was clear this was a young man set on climbing to the very top. He was picked for Sussex and went on to represent divisional and England schoolboy's. 

International Career

Dylan made his international debut for the England Under 19's in 2004 and in 2005, he represented England at the under 20's Junior World Championships in Argentina in which he covered all three front row positions.

He made his Saxons debut, appearing against Italy A and Ireland A in 2007, scoring on both occasions. 

In March, 2008 he celebrated his 22nd birthday two days after Northampton secured promotion back into the premiership and just as his international career was about to be launched.
His first senior cap was during the 2008 Autumn International series against the Pacific Islanders, coming off the bench. His first start came in June the following year against Argentina at Old Trafford and preceded an England tour to Argentina. A few weeks after returning, he was handed the responsibility of becoming the youngest captain in the premiership. He had already made 89 club appearances and scored 9 tries.

His first test try came against the home of his birth at Twickenham, just 3 minutes after stepping off the bench and coincided with his 20th cap for England. Incidentally, his 50th cap was also awarded against New Zealand and his 100th cap could see him face them again.

Dylan first captained England in the absence of Chris Robshaw in June 2012 as they drew 14-14 with South Africa in Port Elizabeth and made his first man of the match appearance in November the following year against Argentina.

He permanently replaced Robshaw as England captain under Eddie Jones for the 2016 Six Nations Championship. A logical progression from his six seasons in charge at Northampton Saints, Eddie Jones remarked, "his passion and aggressive approach to the game, give him the qualities to lead the England team". They subsequently won their first Grand Slam in thirteen years. 

He went on to lead the side to a first ever series win in Australia in the Cook Cup in June 2016, winning all three tests, white-washing the series and in doing so, becoming the most capped England Hooker of all time with 74, a record previously held by England world cup winner, Steve Thompson.

In the 2017 Six Nations Championship, following an unbeaten year, he captained the side to a world record equaling 18th consecutive victory when his side achieved a 61-21 victory over Scotland, matching the record held by New Zealand, but he fell short at the final hurdle, loosing to Ireland 13-9 in Dublin to be denied the first ever back-to-back Grand Slam of the Six Nations era, and new world record of 19 straight wins. He now has 84 caps for England and has touched down for them twice in his career. His leadership and work rate were crucial to England's success and he continues to be a talisman of the new Eddie Jones regime.

Domestic Career

Dylan joined Worcester Warriors academy in 2005, representing the senior side once in the 2004-05 European Challenge Cup. He made 14 senior appearances scoring one try before joining Northampton Saints senior academy in the summer of 2005.

He started one game, in the 2006-07 Heineken Cup quarter final victory over Biarritz, but Northampton were relegated from the Premiership that season. The following year, they won the EDF Energy Trophy, securing promotion from the Championship, and won the 2008-09 European Champions Cup against Bourgoin.

On 22nd July, 2009, Dylan became the youngest premiership captain, replacing former All-Black, Bruce Reihana. 

He captained the side to a number of successful challenges including the 2011 Heineken Cup final and 2013 English Premiership final but felt just short with both attempts before finally lifting the trophy the following year when Northampton won the 2013-14 Premiership and European Challenge Cup for the first time.

He extended his contract with Northampton in December 2014 by a further 3 years despite a more lucrative offer from french side Montpellier, stating his desire to remain eligible for England.

He has so far received a total of 222 caps for Northampton, scoring 22 tries in the process.

Disciplinary Record

Dylan's career has seen both high's and low's and his appointment as England captain was surrounded by controversy owing to his poor disciplinary record.

In April 2007, he was banned for 26 weeks for eye gouging now fellow team mate, James Haskell. He was banned again in March 2012 for 8 weeks for biting Ireland forward Stephen Ferris in their six nations encounter. In Decmeber 2012, he was banned for a further 2 weeks for punching Ulster hooker and current Ireland captain, Rory Best in a Heineken Cup match, taking his total to 36 weeks of bans!

In May 2013, he was sent off against Leicester in the Aviva Premiership final and subsequently banned for 11 weeks after being found guilty of calling english referee, Wayne Barnes, "a f***ing cheat", an act that cost him his place on the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.

In December 2014, he was banned for 3 weeks for elbowing Matt Smith in the face against Leicester Tigers and five months later in May 2015, he was found guilty of making contact with the head of opposite number and current England protégé, Jamie George in the English Premiership semi-final loss to Saracens, costing him a further 4 week ban and putting his England Rugby World Cup 2015 selection in jeopardy. On 29th May, 2015, Stuart Lancaster confirmed that Dylan would be dropped from the England training squad - he was replaced (ironically) by the recipient of his head-butt, Jamie George.

He's only seen one ban, for 6 weeks, since being named England captain by Eddie Jones in January 2016, and that was in December of the same year for catching Sean O'Brien with a swinging arm to the back of the head in the European Champions Cup game against Leinster.

In total, Dylan has received 60 weeks worth of bans since April 2007 when he was just 21. Now at 31, and 10 years on, that represents an average of 6 weeks off per year or approximately 15% of his professional career and whilst we don't condone ill-discipline, it could possibly be the secret sauce that has enabled him to become the most capped England Hooker ever. In the words of Eddie Jones, "his passion and aggressive approach to the game, give him the qualities to lead the England team". Besides, there's two sides to every story, we're on yours Dylan.

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