In the days following Dylan Hartley’s sending off against Leinster in the European Rugby Champions Cup, there was a great deal of debate over the proposed length of the hooker’s suspension.
Some had argued that Hartley should have received a longer ban, while others accused various commentators of leading a witch hunt against the England captain.
In any event, Hartley is free to play in the opening round of the Six Nations, albeit after very limited game time this season.
However, one person who maintained a degree of silence throughout the entire episode was Eddie Jones. Although the England coach was spotted holding his head in his hands immediately after Hartley struck Sean O’Brien at Franklin’s Gardens in December, he maintained his distance thereafter.
That is until Jones criticised Hartley’s tackle technique in an interview with The Telegraph’s Gavin Mairs. Although the England coach argued that the Northampton hooker was not the only player who must improve his technique, Jones did single out his captain and make reference to the O’Brien incident.
It is like Dylan, if he has his arms in close he does not hit a bloke like that. We are consistently reinforcing good technique. We have spoken to Dylan and he has done numerous skill sessions to pick it up.
He is not the only one with that flaw.
Nevertheless, despite only playing six minutes of rugby in over two months, Hartley is expected to start in England’s opening Six Nations clash with France on February 4.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
In this week’s edition of The Oval Office Podcast, we speak to the Pro12 Communications Manager Adam Redmond, who outlines how the league will evolve in the coming seasons.