‘We don’t use history, we don’t look at trends’: inside the mind of Dylan Hartley

first_img Support The Guardian Since you’re here… Share on Pinterest news Share via Email Share on WhatsApp Nor does it matter a jot what happened last year or last week. “History is history. That can’t help us. We can only affect what happens on Saturday.”Not long ago England’s players were all budding historians, obsessed with those who wore the shirt before them. Less so now, according to Hartley. “You do have to respect all that but it’s not something we tap into to win games. We don’t look backwards. We don’t use history, we don’t look at trends. As soon as you start looking back you take your eye off the ball and miss the next game.”The biggest irony is that the man sent off for swearing at Wayne Barnes in the 2013 Premiership final is now increasingly viewed as an expert in communicating with match officials. “I think about that a lot. I think about my body language, how I gesture towards the ref, how I approach them and when it’s time to do so. You’ve got to pick your moments.“All referees are different, will interpret laws differently or have a favourite penalty. The stats show that. It’s not us against them; we need to work together.”Increasingly, it feels aeons since Warren Gatland singled out Hartley on the eve of the 2011 Wales v England match and suggested he might crack, just as Eddie Jones has been doing with Rhys Patchell this week. Hartley is not about to reopen that can of worms but winning big matches is never a chore: “Any international game is sweeter when you win. It’s all we want to do, get better and win games. For confidence we train bloody hard, we prepare well and we trust each other to execute. That’s where I get my confidence from.”Lucky Dylan? The results column would suggest otherwise. Topics Given Hartley is about to win his 91st international cap, one behind Johnson’s combined tally for England and the Lions, the Northampton hooker is building up an impressive body of statistical evidence to brandish at those who still view him as a hot-headed liability. Would anyone care to guess how many yellow and red cards the 31-year-old has received in his record 46 Six Nations games for England? The answer is a big fat zero.The mindset with which he now approaches Test matches has certainly matured over time. “I don’t know what I did five years ago because I probably didn’t do the same thing. I did whatever I felt like in the week.” These days he has developed more of a coiled spring mentality: “You can’t get into a routine because as soon as you do that you get comfortable. You don’t want comfortable players. We want players who are challenged the whole time.” Read more Aaron Shingler ready to show his switch-hitting skills at Twickenham Share on Facebook England rugby union team Six Nations 2018 … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Read more Dylan Hartley Share on Messenger Share on Twitter Wales eager to make England’s ‘Jones the Gob’ rue his trash talk Share on LinkedIn Reuse this content Six Nations Many people believe Dylan Hartley is fortunate still to be captain of England. Maybe he is in some respects but every footsoldier loves a lucky general. Then again, how much luck is ultimately involved when you have led your team in 24 Test matches and lost once? The more I practise the luckier I get as Gary Player used to say.In 12 home Tests as captain Hartley has yet to make a losing speech. With or without the armband he is unbeaten in an England jersey at Twickenham since November 2014. Since making his Six Nations debut in 2009 he has lost at HQ in the championship twice in 23 outings, to Ireland in 2010 and Wales in 2012. Martin Johnson, for comparison’s sake, had a marginally worse ratio, having also suffered two home defeats in the tournament in 19 attempts from 1993 to 2003. Rugby unionlast_img read more