Dylan Hartley: The definitive rap sheet for the England hooker
Is Dylan Hartley the Lions captain we need or deserve?
The campaign to have a player who most admit is inferior in his position to Rory Best selected for the Tourists' Test team ahead of the Ireland captain has been growing, but may have hit a significant bump in the road on Friday night.
The England captain ended an unusually lengthy period of good behaviour in some style, lamping Seán O'Brien during Leinster's rout of his bedraggled Saints side.
Biting, gouging, punching and the most heinous of crimes in rugby, abusing the refereen have all landed the Saints hooker time on the sidelines.
HIs latest infraction will bring to over a year the amount of time he has lost through bans and suspensions.
So, in chronological order, here's what Hartley has done in his career that he shouldn't have.
- The first of Hartley's suspensions, and by far the biggest. He picked up a 26-week ban for eye-gouging James Haskell and Irish flanker Johnny O'Connor during a Premiership match, resulting in the 21-year-old missing out on a place in England's World Cup squad. He was also found not guilty of a third gouge on Joe Worsley in the same match. No footage of the incident is available on YouTube, but here's one interesting fact from that day: Hartley picked up the Man of the Match award.
- Hartley was well behaved on the pitch for almost five years, before two bans in 2012 had people questioning his temperament once again. He picked up an eight-week suspension at the end of the 2012 Six Nations after being found guilty of biting Ireland's Stephen Ferris during England's hammering of Declan Kidney's side in Twickenham in 2012. Just four days being suspended, England's forwards coach Graham Rowntree tipped him to be the future England captain.
- For the third time in a row, in December 2012 Hartley was suspended for a run in with an Irish player. Ulster picked up a bonus point during their 25-6 win over the Saints at Franklin's Gardens, and with 15 minutes to go, frustration got the better of the hooker, as he threw several punches and elbows on Rory Best, as the pair grappled on the ground. He was cited and suspended for two weeks, missing the return meeting at Ravenhill, but his side still won in his absence, sneaking past Ulster 10-9.
- Hartley's third suspension in just over a year was caused him to miss out on the Lions tour, where he would potentially have been in with a shout of a Test place. Having already been warned for the way he had spoken to referee Wayne Barnes, Hartley was given a straight red card right on half-time for calling Barnes "a f***ing cheat". As we all know, answering the referee back is punishable at the best of times in rugby. Using language as bold as that was never going to end well. 11 weeks, and a long summer holiday for Dylan.
- A good 18 months or so had passed since "cheatgate", and it was being whispered that Hartley could have been getting his act together. But just before Christmas, Hartley was again in rugby's dock, this time after a swinging elbow on Leicester Tigers' Matt Smith, during his side's 23-19 win against their midland rivals. Hartley was given a red card for the elbow, and it was this incident that prompted Neil Francis into his scathing criticism of the player.
- Banned for four weeks for a headbutt on Saracens' Jamie George in the Premiership semi-final which will see the Northampton hooker miss England's World Cup opener against Fiji.
On May 29 2015, Hartley was axed from Stuart Lancaster's World Cup squad. He commented, 'I am devastated with what has happened and the position I have put myself and the England team in. I would like to apologise to Jamie, Stuart, and my team mates both at Saints as well as England. What happened is not acceptable and I understand why this decision has been made.'
- Hartley takes to the field against Leinster with the sound of the great and the good of rugby recommending the England captain as the leader of next summer's Lions. Six minutes later he was shown a red card for a horrendous swinging arm 'tackle'/haymaker aimed at Seán O'Brien. Another good spell on the sidelines beckons and maybe some of those cheerleaders will be muted.
- On top of the almost full year of suspensions he's racked up, he was also one of the many England players who were disciplined for their off-field behaviour during the 2011 World Cup, receiving plenty of negative publicity for being part of the group of players who took part in a "Dwarf Throwing Contest" at an Auckland bar.
- He's also picked up at least three yellow cards in his international career. He picked up cautions against Georgia in 2011, South Africa in 2012 and was again yellow-carded against the 'Boks when they met in November 2014, for this stamp on Duane Vermuelan...