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.