The Rugby Paper - - Interview -


There are not many play­ers picked for their cap­taincy above their play­ing abil­ity. You don’t have the lux­ury in rugby of a Mike Bri­er­ley – you can’t carry any pas­sen­gers in rugby. Also, how much does a cap­tain do these days? You have your ex­perts in var­i­ous ar­eas, and you do the prep in the week, so you don’t need a cere­bral cap­tain in rugby. Also, it’s of­ten the coach who points to the cor­ner rather than the cap­tain.

These days coaches also talk about sce­nario-based games which you have cov­ered off in train­ing. Coach­ing now is about pre­par­ing play­ers for any sce­nario, so the role of the cap­tain is re­duced.

I like Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tommy Tay­lor, but they are both strug­gling to string enough games to­gether due to in­jury. In fact if any of those guys had been show­ing a string of per­for­mances then Dy­lan Hart­ley would have been un­der even more pres­sure.

You could ar­gue that Mike Hay­wood – who has played in Saints’ win­ning run over the last three weeks – has been the best hooker at Northamp­ton for the last three years. He’s prob­a­bly been loyal to the detri­ment of his ca­reer, be­cause he might have got a few caps by now at an­other club. He’s an ex­cel­lent player who’s been in the shad­ows.


Jones has picked Hart­ley as his cap­tain, and he’s show­ing faith in him. You can see why. He didn’t kick off about not be­ing se­lected for the Lions, he just kept his mouth shut and went and did a job in Ar­gentina.

Some­times they say the cap­tain’s got to be the best player on the team sheet – and I sup­pose Dy­lan isn’t – but he’s on a 95 per cent win­ning run.

Tom Dunn is do­ing all right at Bath, apart from head­but­ting in the scrum. That brought back some old mem­o­ries, so fair play, he’s a bit old school. This Ar­gen­tine kid­die (San­ti­ago So­cino) that plays for New­cas­tle is pretty handy, but he’s not English.


In terms of the lead­er­ship I have no doubt that play­ers who find the right words at the right time do make a dif­fer­ence in big games – and es­pe­cially in big mo­ments in big games. It is the abil­ity to recog­nise what to do at that mo­ment.

Ed­die is as good as any­body in the world at de­cid­ing what he wants from his leader.

You talk about set­ting the right at­ti­tude, and then pick some­one who em­bod­ies that. Cap­taincy is a dif­fi­cult thing, and a lot comes down to ex­pe­ri­ence.

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