Six Nations

Hartley confirmed as England captain

Dylan Hartley has been named England captain ahead of the Six Nations by head coach Eddie Jones.

Hooker Hartley takes over from Chris Robshaw, who led England at the Rugby World Cup last year but was heavily criticised after the hosts exited the competition in the pool stage.

New Zealand-born Hartley, 29, has a chequered disciplinary record, serving over a year's worth of suspensions during his career, but has nevertheless been entrusted with leading a new-look England side under Jones.

England begin their Six Nations campaign against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 6. Hartley has previously served as captain once, in a June 2012 clash against South Africa. 

He said: "It is a huge honour to captain England and a very proud day for me and my family.

"I'm really excited about the challenge ahead but in reality leading this squad of players will not fall just to me.

"It is essential for the success of this team that we quickly develop and establish a strong leadership group. There are a number of guys in this squad who will all have important leadership roles to play so we can take this team forward.

"There is a lot of young talent and potential which is great to see. Our focus over the next two weeks is to work hard and prepare for the Scotland game. Playing at Murrayfield will be a huge challenge and one we are all looking forward to."

Hartley's string of disciplinary sanctions include a 26-week ban for eye-gouging in 2007 and an 11-week suspension after he was sent off in the 2013 Premiership final for abusing a match official, an incident that saw him omitted from the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.

He missed the World Cup after picking up a ban for headbutting Saracens' Jamie George, who subsequently took the Northampton Saints man's place.

And, in spite of his disciplinary issues, Jones said of Hartley: "I know it will be a very proud moment for him, his club, his family and friends when he leads England out at Murrayfield.

"As a former captain of Northampton Saints and someone who has a lot of experience playing for England I have every faith he will lead the team tactically and passionately.

"English rugby is indebted to Northampton to have produced such a fine player.  

"Dylan is an honest, hardworking bloke and I admire his aggressive and uncompromising approach to playing rugby. We think he has all the qualities needed to lead this group of players."