Northampton vs Racing Metro: Not again...Dylan Hartley back in the sin-bin

Two red cards and 15 yellows in a 250-match career puts England future in doubt

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The Independent Online

England’s coaches have given their whole-hearted backing to Dylan Hartley, and denied the hooker with the worst disciplinary record in international rugby was ever on a last warning that another transgression would see him dropped.

The vote of confidence came last week, before the Northampton forward was sin-binned in Saturday’s European Champions Cup match against Racing Métro for tackling a player while he was on the ground. He had only recently returned from a three-match ban for elbowing Leicester’s Matt Smith in a Premiership game in December.

That ban took the Saints captain’s rap sheet up to 50 weeks of suspensions – and two red cards and 15 yellows in a 250-match, 10-year senior career with club and country.

 

England’s head coach, Stuart Lancaster, has acted firmly on discipline in the past, jettisoning scrum-half Danny Care from the squad in 2012 after drinking issues. And comments made after November’s loss to South Africa, when Hartley went to the sin-bin for a stamp on Springbok Duane Vermeulen, made it clear Lancaster was irked at penalties conceded by the 61-times capped hooker .

But with less than a fortnight to go before the combustible Six Nations Championship curtain-raiser away to Wales, Lancaster’s right-hand man Graham Rowntree, the England forwards’ coach, described himself as “a big fan”, although he predicted Wales would try “goading” the player.

“A last chance has never been mentioned, never,” said Rowntree, the former England prop. “He has got a lot of credit in the bank, has Dylan. I am a big fan. 

“He has to deal with other players goading him and we have got to hold his hand and help him through that.”

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