England rugby captain Dylan Hartley has let himself, his club Northampton and his country down, head coach Eddie Jones has said, after the New Zealand-born hooker was banned for six weeks for striking an opponent.
Hartley, who has a lengthy disciplinary record, was handed the third dismissal of his career for a high swinging arm tackle on Ireland flanker Sean O’Brien, just six minutes after coming on against Leinster earlier this month.
“Dylan will be more disappointed than anyone about what has happened and he has got to cop the penalty because the World Rugby directive on protecting the head is 100 per cent right,” Jones told British media.
“He has let down himself, he has let down his club and he has let down his country.
“He is eligible for selection for the Six Nations and it comes down to the case for every selection — we pick the best 23 and if he is in the best 23, then he has a chance to be captain.”
Hartley was omitted from the England squad for last year’s World Cup because of a ban for head-butting and has previously served bans totalling 54 weeks for offences including eye-gouging, biting and verbally abusing referees.
“This is not the last chance for him but he understands that he can’t behave in the way he did. Up to this point he has had an exemplary record (for us),” Jones added.
“Discipline is not a black and white situation. Each player is judged on their merits and some players in our squad have already had more than one chance.”
Jones said it was unlikely former England captain Chris Robshaw will be given the armband if Hartley is deemed to be lacking match sharpness. Instead, Owen Farrell might be asked to do a holding job.
“Chris has done his stint and he is more value to us in what he now does,” the Australian said. “We can cope because we have to. There is confidence in Owen but it is about having the level under him to make sure he has the support there.
“It is about having leadership density in the team, about having enough leaders on the field.”