Hartley “has credit in the bank”

Date published: December 13 2016

RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie spoke of Dylan Hartley’s “huge contribution” throughout England’s unbeaten year ahead of his disciplinary hearing.

Hartley will face an EPC disciplinary hearing on Wednesday following his red card for a swinging arm to the head of Sean O’Brien.

The England captain came off the bench for his club side Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup clash against Leinster.

A somewhat controversial pick to be England captain at the start of Eddie Jones’ time in charge, given his history of 54 weeks worth of suspensions, Hartley has led the Six Nations champions excellently all year.

Friday’s incident however was a reminder of his former ways, although Ritchie believes that Hartley’s performances this year will meant that any suspension will not affect his standing with England.

“I think Dylan’s got credit in the bank,” Ritchie told BBC Sport.

“I think most people would say it’s been a fantastic year. We’ve had 13 wins out of 13 and Dylan has made a huge contribution and he should be allowed to continue that.

“Obviously it’s disappointing when he gets sent off but we’ll wait and see what happens.

“You view all these things in perspective and in perspective one looks at the totality of what he’s done and what’s happened over the years and I think we should be supportive of that. Ultimately we’ll see what happens – I’m not going to talk about the disciplinary process as you know.

“If he’s eligible for selection it’s ultimately a matter for Eddie, but we should recognise and support all that Dylan has done in the last 12 months. It is primarily a matter for Eddie and if you look back over it, Eddie’s judgement has been really good. We should recognise that and I’m sure we will.”