Dylan Hartley Explains What Was Going Through His Mind As He 'Tackled' Sean O'Brien

Dylan Hartley Explains What Was Going Through His Mind As He 'Tackled' Sean O'Brien

Dylan Hartley is a name that Irish rugby fans have become all too familiar with in recent months for the wrong reasons. The English captain became public enemy number one with one stiff arm to the head of Sean O'Brien during Northampton's Champions Cup clash with Leinster in December.

Hartley emerged from the bench for the Saints and received his marching orders less than ten minutes later. The hooker spoke to BBC 5 Live Sport about his intentions of making an impact on the game.

I didn't know Eddie [Jones] was there.

I came back to Northampton and wanted to make a positive impact in a big game for the club.

It obviously went horribly wrong. That walk off the field is never a quick moment. It always seems to drag on for a while.

The benefit of doubt could have been granted for the 'tackle' but not on that particular occasion, given Hartley's level of indiscipline displayed in the past. Subsequently, he was served with a six week ban which resulted in him missing club action but being cleared to return to international duty for the Six Nations.

A number of incidents throughout his career raised question marks about Dylan Hartley's ability to captain England. After all, the O'Brien challenge was not an isolated incident. Verbal abuse of a referee. Biting an opponent. Eye gouging Johnny O'Connor. It's quite the list.

Yet, despite the aforementioned occurrences, Eddie Jones confirmed Dylan Hartley as England captain for the second consecutive year.


At the launch for the 2017 Six Nation, the obvious question was asked - 'It was a stiff arm to the head of O'Brien. What were you thinking?'.

Positive, dominant, hard tackle. That's what I was thinking. Obviously the outcome was different to what I intended.

Part of the directive from Eddie [Jones] was that my tackling technique needs to improve because I have a tendency to have my arms high in a tackle.

I've worked very hard with Paul Gustard with that. It's not something that finishes now that I'm back playing, it's an ongoing thing.

It was Gustard himself who may have summed up the situation perfectly in days previous by stating that "He was remorseful about the tackle because he let people down". Yet, seemingly displaying little remorse for forcing the O'Brien out of the game through a malicious challenge.

See Also: Rory Best Endured 'Unbelievable Discomfort' To Help Ireland Win 2014 Six Nations

Darren Holland

You may also like