Appointed captain of England for the 2016 Six Nations, hooker Dylan Hartley captained England to their first 6 Nations win in 5 years and their first Grand Slam since 2003, proving an inspired choice from Eddie Jones to make him skipper. Dylan has also recently led England to a historic 3-0 series whitewash over Australia in their own backyard!
At 30 years of age, Dylan is known for his fine leadership and his ability on the pitch; having already won 75 England caps he still has plenty of rugby ahead of him. He is also responsible for the turnaround in England’s fortune after the Rugby World Cup being at the forefront of Eddie Jones’ revolution.
Born 1986 in Rotorua, New Zealand, Dylan grew up in All Black country and learned his rugby as a prop at Rotorua High School, playing with the likes of All Black Liam Messam in the side that won the 2002 national schools championship.
He had a desire to play for England, the land of his ancestors, and found his way there through knowing he was qualified to play for England from his English mother’s side. When the opportunity arose in 2002, he moved to Crowborough, playing for local sides and joining the Beacon Rugby Academy and earning county and England schoolboy honours.
BEGINNINGS OF A PROFESSIONAL CAREER
Dylan moved on to join the Worcester Warriors academy where he converted from prop to hooker, but he represented the senior Worcester side just once in the 2004-05 season and in 2005 joined the Senior Academy of Northampton Saints, the same year he represented England at the Under 21 Rugby World Championship. He has stayed at Northampton since, playing in over 200 games for the club, and is contracted to stay there till at least 2017 despite a lucrative offer from Montpellier. He won the European Challenge Cup with Saints in 2008-09 and was made captain in July 2009, then the youngest captain in Premiership history.
Dylan played for England Saxons in 2007 and won first full England cap in 2008.
CONTROVERSY AND CHARITY
Dylan’s record of on-field indiscipline has long been a controversial topic, but this is fuelled by his passion for the game and his natural aggression and, at international level, he has been sent to the sin-bin three times in 69 games.
Off the field, however, he is an inspiration, always working hard and always ready to take on those little jobs, like sweeping out the changing rooms, which need to be done but garner no recognition.
Dylan also works as an ambassador for the Matt Hampson Foundation, a charity established by Matt Hampson after he was left paralyzed following a scrum collapse during a 2005 training session for England U21 and which helps sports people who have suffered catastrophic injuries.
Get an exclusive insight into the England camp and Eddie Jones from our interview with Dylan
GRASSROOTS OF CANTERBURY AMBASSADORS: ROBBIE HENSHAW
With a great future ahead of him at just 22 years of age, centre Robbie Henshaw has already won 18 caps for Ireland (as at 22 February 2016) and no less a player than the great Brian O’Driscoll has been quoted as saying, “I think he has all the attributes to be a seasoned campaigner for Ireland for many, many years.”
Robbie was born in Athlone to a sporting and musical family and grew up in Coosan, playing his early rugby at the Marist College where he studied and, in 2012, captained the school’s rugby team to their first Connacht Senior Cup in 35 years.
Keen and talented, Robbie developed his rugby at the grassroots level with the Connacht under-age set up and was selected to enter the Connacht Academy for the 2012-13 season, earning his first full cap for the Connacht senior team in 2012, playing mostly as a fullback. As a junior player, Robbie represented Ireland at age group level and was part of the Irish Schools side that won the Under-18 European Championship; he also represented his country at Under-19 level.
Full international honours were not far away and in 2013 Robbie was included in the Ireland training squad for the Six Nations Championship, but although he played for the Irish Wolfhounds and the Ireland Under-20 sides he did not make his senior team debut until June that year when he started against the USA.
Left out of the playing side for the 2014 Six Nations, Robbie was selected again for the 2015 championship, scoring his first senior international try on 1 March in the win over England. He later played three games in Ireland’s 2015 RWC campaign and is now well established as an international centre.
HARD WORK AND SUPPORT
Robbie, a 1.93m, 103kg behemoth, has natural talent and continues to impress with his hard running, excellent kicking game and vision, but it is his own hard work, the support of those around him and nurturing through the Connacht development system that has brought him on to be the player he is today.
GEOFF PARLING: A LION IN EXETER
Standing 1.98m tall and weighing in at 117kg, lock Geoff Parling is a huge man who has had a huge impact on British rugby. The 32 year-old from Stockton-on-tees has won 29 England caps as well as earning three British and Irish Lions caps on the 2013 tour to Australia, during which he played in all three tests.
THE EARLY DAYS
Born in 1983, as a youngster Geoff was eager to try all sports and by the age of 11 was a promising county level goalkeeper in the soccer-dominated northeast. However, when he arrived at soccer-oriented Ian Ramsey School, he and a few other boys successfully urged that the school form a rugby team. The new team won its first game against another local school (that was coached by Geoff’s father) with Geoff scoring the only try of the match.
Geoff then joined Stockton RFC and developed his game under Nick Moore, the man he has described as being the biggest influence in terms of getting him to enjoy rugby. In those days at Stockton there were players of all abilities and Moore’s view was that rugby should be fun and his ethos was that if a boy turned up with his boots on then he would get some game time. It was the group identity and camaraderie that this engendered that steered Geoff towards rugby when at age about 14 he had to choose between rugby and soccer, because playing both games on weekends, as he did, was becoming too hectic.
Going on to the Newcastle Falcons Academy, Geoff honed his rugby skills, becoming good enough to be selected for England age group sides at Under 16, Under 18, Under 19 and Under 21 levels. He went on to play for Newcastle Falcons becoming a first team regular in the 2005-06 season. But it was after moving to Leicester Tigers in 2009 that Geoff began to push for international honours and in 2010 he played twice for the England Saxons. Two years later he won the first of his full England caps and, in 2013, toured Australia with the Lions.
Now with Exeter Chiefs, we are proud to count Geoff as a Canterbury brand ambassador.
KEVIN SINFIELD: THE RUGBY LEAGUE GENERAL
International Caps: 41
Professional Clubs Games: 537
Leeds Rhinos: 521 | Points: 3,953
Yorkshire Carnegie: 16 | Points: 122
Canterbury brand ambassador Kevin Sinfield is one of the true stars of rugby and has career statistics that anyone from the rugby world would envy. At 35 years of age Kevin has drawn the curtain on his Rugby playing days, after a glittering career at Leeds Rhinos winning everything and scoring the most points in a Super League career as well as making the most appearances in a Super League career. He switched codes to play for Yorkshire Carnegie in the 2015/16 season and decided to hang up his boots at the end of that campaign.
Kevin has retired as one of the greatest respected athletes ever to have played a professional sport and will continue to inspire many.
This is his story.
Born in Oldham in the heartland of rugby league, Kevin played his first competitive game aged about six, when his brother asked him to play for Oldham Juniors (now Waterhead) Under 9s because the side was short of players. Turning out in borrowed boots, he picked the game up very quickly and within a couple of years was recognised as an outstanding young player. He went on to captain Lancashire Under-10s and other representative teams at age group level, culminating in captaining the England Schools Under-16 side.
A ONE CLUB MAN
Despite interest from several clubs, Kevin joined Leeds Rhinos, making his first team debut in 1997 aged just 16 years. The rest of Kevin’s story is, as they say, history. Playing mostly as a loose forward or stand-off, he went on to play 521 times for Leeds and captained the side to seven Super League championships and two Challenge Cup victories. On the way he became the Super League’s highest points scorer, the highest points scorer for the Rhinos and the third highest points scorer in British rugby league history. He also played 27 times for England and 14 times for Great Britain.
Along the way he also picked up the Lance Todd Trophy, two Harry Sunderland Trophies, the Golden Boot and was runner-up in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. He has also been awarded the MBE for services to rugby league.
ATTITUDE TO THE GAME
Kevin has always given his best and credits the wonderful support of his parents for where he is today. As a captain, he knew exactly how to bring out the best in the players around him and was a great inspiration to his side.
He loves rugby and believes that you play at your best when you’re enjoying the game. He is a fine role model for any young player, irrespective of which code and we are really proud to have him as our ambassador.
Kallum Watkins, born in Manchester in 1991, began his rugby journey at his local club Folly Lane in Pendlebury before moving on to Salford Junior Academy. In 2007 after impressing in a trial at Leeds Rhinos, he signed a junior contract with the club. Beginning 2008 in spectacular fashion for the Academy, scoring 11 tries in the opening five games of the season, his form saw him promoted to the first team at just sixteen years of age. He made his début against the then Celtic Crusaders in the Challenge Cup, scoring a try. He went on to make four further appearances in 2008 scoring two further tries, most notably against Bradford at the Millennium Magic weekend.
In 2010, at 18-years-old, Watkins started Leeds’ first 6 games which included an appearance on the wing in the World Club Challenge defeat by the Melbourne Storm. Kallum extended his stay at the club, signing a 5-year contract, and was made club captain of Rhinos in 2018. Kallum made his International debut for England in the 2012 Autumn International Series, scoring a try on debut against Wales. Kallum has represented England in two Rugby League World Cups, most recently reaching the Final against Australia who triumphed 6-0.
Watkins’ senior honours include six Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups and one World Club Challenge title.