Rugby: How England plan to overtake All Blacks to be number 1

Dylan Hartley's move to copy the All Blacks is further evidence of England's relentless drive to topple New Zealand as the No 1 side in the world. Photo / Mark Leech
Dylan Hartley's move to copy the All Blacks is further evidence of England's relentless drive to topple New Zealand as the No 1 side in the world. Photo / Mark Leech

Dylan Hartley may have been accused of being a dirty player in the past but the England captain has gone to extreme lengths to clean up his team's act by mopping up their dressing rooms after every game.

The Mail on Sunday understand England's captain initiated a new team cleaning regime last autumn, which has carried over into this year's RBS Six Nations, where his players take turns to ensure the changing rooms are left spotless after the final whistle.

The practice, which is understood to have been universally welcomed by England's players, mirrors a regime first started by the world champions New Zealand, whose players routinely clean the dressing room after matches in a bid to keep them grounded.

Hartley's move to copy the All Blacks is further evidence of England's relentless drive to topple New Zealand as the No 1 side in the world.

The team even shared pictures of Arsenal's dressing room after their FA Cup win over Sutton United last week which showed litter strewn over the floor and led to accusations of a lack of respect for the non-Leaguers.

Former head coach Stuart Lancaster made it his priority to reconnect the England team with grass-roots clubs after accusations they had become aloof and arrogant.

Current coach Eddie Jones likes to keep his players' feet on the ground and supports the changing room cleaning, with Hartley understood to have led by example.

Players are also encouraged to relax and enjoy a beer together after games, unlike under Lancaster who feared potentially negative PR.

Jones encourages players to set behavioural and disciplinary standards, making Hartley, who has a chequered disciplinary record, a surprise choice to many when he was appointed captain. But he has proved an inspired choice, leading England to straight 15 wins since taking the captaincy.

- Daily Mail

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