England captain Dylan Hartley’s relief at 'surviving’ debut
James Haskell hails leadership qualities of feisty hooker following Calcutta Cup victory at Murrayfield
Dylan Hartley has demanded improvement from England ahead of their trip to Rome next weekend.
Hartley spoke of his relief at getting through his first game as England’s new captain, in which he was booed by sections of the Scottish crowd during a post-match television interview on the Murrayfield pitch. The hooker was replaced in the 77th minute after a fine display at which point Owen Farrell took over as captain
“I got through it, didn’t I? I survived, I live on for one more week. On to the next one,” Hartley joked.
Asked if he felt the weight of responsibility to the nation, Hartley said: “Of course, I did. I prepared for it. The responsibility made me prepare. The game never goes how you want it to go, so all the different scenarios I was playing out in my head before the game. It was never going to be perfect.
“When we went 15-6 up with less than 20 minutes to go – we were running back, George [Ford] came to me and we both said, 'Let’s just get the ball back down there and keep it set-piece orientated. Keep the ball in their half so they can’t score.’
“Good lads like that, the leaders that we talk about – he came to me, we decided on that and we stuck to our guns. We gave them a few chances to come back at us because our discipline was poor, but it’s something we will review and look to get better.” And this week’s theme to training? “Improving. Reviewing and improving – and stepping up to the next challenge.”
The only time the hooker briefly showed his temper was after a tackle in which he felt a Scotland player may have made contact with his eye in a wrestle for the ball. The match citing commissioner has 48 hours to determine whether there should be any citings for foul play.
Hartley, however, played down the incident. “I think someone was getting the ball, they swiped for it and I was a bit miffed,” he said. “It was nothing. ”
James Haskell said that Hartley had demonstrated “great leadership”. “The most important thing to remember is that you want 15 leaders on the field who speak appropriately at the right times,” the England and Wasps flanker said.
“Dylan is the tip of the spear on that and I thought he did very well. When it was right, other boys piped up. There was a good understanding out there and not a lot of panic, which was key. Dylan demanded that we brought the energy and turned all the talk and training into a performance. After two weeks together with a new coach, I was pretty pleased with how it went.”
The England squad flew back to Luton Airport at midnight on Saturday having attended the Scottish Rugby Union’s post-match dinner. They had a day off yesterday and will return to camp this afternoon .
Eddie Jones, the head coach, has vowed that his side will be able to play a greater attacking brand of rugby against Italy in Rome on Sunday, after claiming that referee John Lacey made free-flowing rugby “difficult” during their 15-9 victory.
The head coach said: “[The] refereeing was difficult. It was never going to be a free-flowing game, so we had to adjust, and I thought the way we adjusted in the second half was terrific. It became a set-piece defence game, and we excelled in that. I thought our second-half performance was quite commanding.
We always knew who the referee was, so we always knew that was going to be an issue. I’m telling you it is difficult to get a moving game under him. He [Lacey] allows the defence a lot of advantage at the breakdown so you have to play like that. I’m not saying it’s wrong. I’m not saying it’s right, but it was always going to be difficult.
“We’ve got some work to do at the breakdown, but we’ve got to play the game under the referee.”
Glen Jackson, the former Saracens fly-half who worked under Jones when he was director of rugby at the Premiership club between 2007 and 2009, has been appointed as the match referee for the game at the Stadio Olimpico, and the England head coach expects his officiating style will benefit his attacking ambitions. “He favours teams that keep the ball, so we’ll be able to play a bit more. It should be a faster deck,” he said.
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