Hart­ley’s ‘fan­tas­tic’ cap­taincy needs to be recog­nised: RFU chief

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS - MEL­BOURNE:

Dylan Hart­ley’s ex­em­plary lead­er­ship of Eng­land over the last year should be taken into ac­count when coach Ed­die Jones de­cides whether he should re­tain the cap­taincy af­ter the third dis­missal of his ca­reer, RFU chief Ian Ritchie has said.

The New Zealand-born hooker was shown a straight red card for a swing­ing arm tackle on Ire­land flanker Sean O’Brien while play­ing for Northamp­ton against Le­in­ster in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup last Fri­day. Hart­ley, who has a lengthy dis­ci­plinary record, faces a long spell on the side­lines but Ritchie thinks his part in Eng­land’s resur­gence over the last year needs to be taken into ac­count when it comes to con­is­der­ing his lead­er­ship po­si­tion.

“Dylan has clearly played a fan­tas­tic part in cap­tain­ing the team, on and off the pitch, just to be clear,” Ritchie told Lon­don’s Daily Tele­graph.

“His lead­er­ship cre­den­tials are very strong. He’s made a huge con­tri­bu­tion, as Ed­die would say.

“So you view all these things in per­spec­tive and in per­spec­tive one looks at the to­tal­ity of what he’s done and what’s hap­pened over the years and I think we should be sup­port­ive of that.”

Hart­ley was omit­ted from the Eng­land squad for last year’s World Cup be­cause of a ban for head­but­ting and has pre­vi­ously served bans to­talling 54 weeks for of­fences in­clud­ing eye-goug­ing, bit­ing and ver­bally abus­ing ref­er­ees.

Aus­tralian Jones handed him the cap­taincy when he took over as coach in the wake of Eng­land’s hu­mil­i­at­ing exit from the World Cup and Hart­ley has been an in­te­gral part of a team that won all 13 tests in 2016.

Hart­ley’s lead­er­ship of Eng­land had also in­evitably brought him into dis­cus­sions about the cap­taincy of War­ren Gatland’s Bri­tish and Irish Li­ons squad for next year’s tour of New Zealand.

Ritchie is ob­vi­ously more con­cerned about Eng­land and who will lead them into the de­fence of their ti­tle in the Six Na­tions, the start of which Hart­ley could miss de­pend­ing on the length of his ban. “If he’s el­i­gi­ble for se­lec­tion it’s ul­ti­mately a mat­ter for Ed­die, but we should recog­nise and sup­port all that Dylan has done in the last 12 months,” Ritchie added. “It is pri­mar­ily a mat­ter for Ed­die and if you look back over it, Ed­die’s judge­ment has been re­ally good. We should recog­nise that and I’m sure we will.” — Reuters

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