English media react to Hartley's controversal appointment

England's Dylan Hartley. Photo / AP.
England's Dylan Hartley. Photo / AP.

New England captaincy Dylan Hartley has copped a bashing from fans but most of the British rugby media is taking a wait and see approach to his controversial appointment.

Former test back Austin Healey was an exception, leading the attack on Eddie Jones' decision to appoint rugby's most notorious thug as test captain, replacing Chris Robshaw. Hartley has received 54 weeks of suspensions for eye-gouging, biting, punching, swearing, elbowing and head-butting.

The 29-year-old led England in a test against South Africa in 2012, and now has the job permanently. His elevation brought mixed reactions, with the sports writers noting a change in direction from the more idealistic era under Stuart Lancaster who dropped players for disciplinary reasons.

Healey told his Telegraph readers: "I don't have anything against Dylan personally, but he is not even the best hooker at his club at the moment. He has started one match in two months for Northampton and was not particularly good then. It is astounding then that he is being selected ahead of England's best hooker on the basis of no form and a history that is more chequered than the Formula One flags.

"(Tom Youngs) doesn't cost his team through a rush of blood to the head or get sent off."

Chris Foy, in the Daily Mail, wrote: " (Jones) is not courting popularity with this choice. He is not concerned about the PR implications, or polarised public opinion on the subject.

"Jones has not been hired by the RFU to worry about how his every move impacts on wider perceptions of the game in this country. He has been hired to collect victories and trophies, so he is proceeding with that in mind.

"Of course, the risk and the danger is that (Hartley's) short-fuse tendency to allow his simmering intensity to boil over at just the wrong time will come back to haunt Jones.

"Jones has decided that the gamble is worthwhile - partly due to the absence of alternative candidates. In Hartley, he has a skipper who will clearly run the show; in deeds and words."

Sam Hall, in the Independent said Jones wanted to inject "some snarl and rambunctiousness to a previously blunted England forward pack".

Former captain Will Carling was among those backing Hartley but not all fans on Twitter agreed. Comments included.-

? "What a depressing appointment. Sends out all the wrong messages",
?"Getting sent off or banned for biting, punching, elbowing, eye gouging. Shining example for kids"
?"Sorry but I'm not a fan...play hard but show boating and poor discipline is not part of rugby."

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