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'He's got credit in the bank' - England rugby chief backs Hartley to remain captain

RFU CEO Ian Ritchie says the Northampton hooker has been ‘the perfect ambassador’ since joining the setup.

England captain Dylan Hartley.
England captain Dylan Hartley.
Image: Andrew Matthews

THE HEAD OF English rugby has backed under-fire hooker Dylan Hartley to retain the captaincy of Eddie Jones’ side despite his latest bout of indiscipline.

Northampton’s Hartley was dismissed just six minutes after his introduction as a replacement against Leinster for striking Sean O’Brien’s head with a swinging arm.

The 30-year-old England captain, who has already served 54 weeks of suspension during his rugby career, will find out the extent of his punishment tomorrow.

It is now possible that Hartley could yet be unavailable for the start of England’s Six Nations defence, which begins with a home tie against France on 4 February.

That and his grossly tainted disciplinary record have prompted calls from some quarters to strip this year’s Grand Slam-winning skipper of the captaincy.

But England Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie has backed the front rower to retain the role despite his latest indiscretion.

“I think Dylan’s got credit in the bank,” Ritchie told BBC Sport.

“I think most people would say it’s been a fantastic year. We’ve had 13 wins out of 13 and Dylan has made a huge contribution and he should be allowed to continue that.

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“Obviously it’s disappointing when he gets sent off but we’ll wait and see what happens.

“If he’s eligible to be in contention for the Six Nations then it’s a matter for Eddie.

“He’s been a great leader and his performances on the pitch, and the way he’s helped Eddie with the team, I think he’s done a fantastic job.

“Ever since Dylan’s been involved in the set-up, he has been the perfect ambassador on and off the pitch.”

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