The appointment of Dylan Hartley as England’s captain for the 2016 RBS 6 Nations Championship was the logical progression from his six seasons in charge at Northampton Saints, one of England’s pre-eminent clubs. He started the tournament with 66 caps, more than any other current player in the squad and led the side to the Triple Crown on his 70th appearance and then to the Grand Slam with a stunning 31-21 win over a fiercely competitive France side in Paris.
Few players score a Test try only three minutes after stepping off the bench but he did with gusto when winning his 20th cap, against New Zealand at Twickenham in 2010. Three years later, he made his 47th appearance in the 30-3 defeat by Wales at the Principality Stadium, so becoming England’s third most capped hooker. When playing against Scotland in March 2015 year he overtook Brian Moore’s total of 64. He then broke the record of 73 caps, held by former Northampton Saints clubmate Steve Thompson when becoming the first captain to lead England to a series win on Australian soil in June last year. On his momentous day at Melbourne, he also scored his second Test try in the 23-7 victory. When leading his country for the 21st time in the 35-25 victory and a series win over Argentina last June, he overtook Lawrence Dallaglio and Rory Underwood to become England’s third most capped player behind Jason Leonard (114) and Jonny Wilkinson (91).
Dylan had captained England for the first time in the 14-14 draw with South Africa at Port Elizabeth in June 2012 in the absence of Chris Robshaw and was man of the match in the 31-12 victory over Argentina at Twickenham in November 2013. His 50th cap was in the next match, against New Zealand but he had missed the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia that year because of disciplinary problems and was also absent from the 2015 RWC for similar reasons. England were unbeaten in the first 18 internationals under his command before losing 13-9 to Ireland in Dublin last March and has since taken his total to 20 wins and a draw in 22 games.
When England achieved a 61-21 victory over Scotland in their previous game, they had won 18 consecutive Test matches, dating back to the 2015 RWC pool match against Uruguay and equalled the world record held by New Zealand. Their victories included the three Tests against Australia in the summer of 2016, all four in the Old Mutual Wealth Series that November and another four in the 2017 Six Nations. Dylan's leadership and work rate were crucial in England’s success as the squad inflicted only the Wallabies second whitewash at home and their first since 1971 against the Springboks.
Dylan has since taken his total to 21 victories and a draw in 23 games that includes the 30-6 victory over Australia at Twickenham this November, a record winning margin for England in the fixture. When playing off the bench in the final match of the 2017 Old Mutual Wealth Series against Samoa, it was the first time he had done so since the corresponding match against the same opponents three years earlier.
He had led the side to their 10th consecutive Six Nations victory over Italy at Twickenham in late February this year. It equalled the tournament record set by England twice previously, from 1882 to 1886, and 1922 to 1925. A fortnight later, his squad made history with their 11th RBS win in a row.
A few weeks after returning from England’s tour of Argentina in 2009, Dylan was handed the responsibility of becoming the youngest captain in the Premiership when leading Northampton Saints. He continued in that role with conspicuous success and in 2013/14, his squad won the Premiership title for the first time.
When named originally as captain, he had already made 89 club appearances and scored nine tries. That total had increased to 234 games with another 15 tries along the way. He signed a new contract last July when being re-appointed as captain.
He has completed 12 seasons with Northampton, having made his first team debut in September 2005 while a member of the club’s senior academy. Dylan played 16 times in his maiden campaign, prompting Steve Thompson to switch to the back row. He moved from his native New Zealand to England 14 years ago, initially played for Worcester Warriors and at the early age of 19 became a member of the England U21 squad, showing an innate football ability and competitive attitude to succeed.
Dylan was initially called up for England U18 while staying with relatives in Crowborough and being involved with the local Sussex club. Educated at Rotorua Boys High School, he went on to cover all three England front row positions during the 2005 IRB Junior World Championship in Argentina.
His next stop was England Saxons with appearances and tries against Italy A and Ireland A in 2007 and, in April the same year, even a sixth-month ban failed to deter him in his quest for the top. The following March, he celebrated his 22nd birthday two days after the Saints won promotion back to the Premiership and his international career was about to be launched.
10 points - 2T
2008 PI(R), A(R), SA(R), NZ(R) 2009 It(R), W(R), I(R), F(R), S(R), Arg (1,2), A(R), Arg, NZ 2010 W, It, I, S, F, NZ(R), A, Sam, SA 2011 W, It, F, S, I, W, I(R) World Cup - Arg(R), G, S(R), F(R) 2012 S, It, W, F, I, SA (1,2,3) 2013 S(R), I(R), F, It(R), W(R), A(R), Arg, NZ 2014 F, S, I, W, It, NZ (2R,3), NZ, SA, Sam (R), A 2015 W, It, I, S, F 2016 S, It, I, W, F, W, A(1,2,3), SA, Fj, Arg, A 2017 F, W, It, S, I, Arg (1,2), Arg, A, Sam(R) 2018 It, W
Last updated: 12 February 2018