Rugby has always been a game of sliding doors. What if Dylan Hartley had started for Northampton in the Champions’ Cup game against Leinster last Friday night, rather than steaming in off the bench with a point to prove?
One crude swinging arm is in danger of costing Dylan Hartley his immediate future as the England captain and any chance he had of leading the British & Irish Lions to New Zealand next summer.
Warren Gatland says he will not favour his Wales players when selecting his British and Irish Lions squad and has backed England’s Dylan Hartley as a possible captain for next summer’s tour to New Zealand. Gatland, who has been reappointed as head coach, is also adamant the Lions can upset the current world champions and win the three-Test series.
Had there been a referendum here this week Australians would have voted unanimously for England’s rugby players to leave. Even if the visitors do lose the third Test and fail to gain a 3-0 series margin it has been a memorable tour that has confounded their reputation locally as oval-ball dullards. Eddie Jones complained about being searched at the airport on arrival but he can expect to be fast-tracked through departures.
When referee Wayne Barnes brandished the red card to Dylan Hartley for abusive language in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership final, the Northampton captain’s heart must have stopped.