Gilbert Rugby caught up with England and Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley to look back at the Autumn Internationals, discuss Movember and talk his Christmas wishes.
Gilbert Rugby: The Autumn Internationals are in the history books – how would you rate the series from a personal and team standpoint?
Dylan Hartley: Personally I was happy with my performances. I contributed to a very successful set piece, an area of pride for us. As a team we didn’t execute opportunities against New Zealand and South Africa and we came up short by 3 points in both games. At top level international rugby against the best you need to be able to execute when you have the chance as you might only get 1 or 2 chances in a game. That’s the difference. Positives are that admittedly we were not at our best but were still capable of going toe-to-toe with the best. There’s room for us to grow and improve over the Six Nations and win some big games and hopefully something shiny at the end.
GR: You alluded to the RBS 6 Nations - the next assignment for England – how important is it to have a successful tournament to go into the World Cup with momentum?
DH: Much like the Australia game in the autumn, we get a chance to play Wales before we meet again in the World Cup pool stages. Both teams will be desperate for that result as it gives a mental edge. Overall I think it’s time this England team won a title, we have been so close the last 4 years I’m sure the disappointments can drive this team forward.
GR: How have you found the brand new Gilbert Match-XV ball? How did the new ball affect your line-out?
DH: I have no complaints! My throwing stats are the best they have ever been…that could be down to my technique, experience, my lineout caller or the ball! Ill let you decide… ; )
GR: Northampton Saints are sitting pretty at the top of Aviva Premiership Rugby – are you confident of making it two titles in a row in May?
DH: The biggest challenge for the Northampton Saints is making the play-offs with a home semi-final. Yes we are at the top for now, but the challenge is maintaining that all the way through until May when the knockout stages begin. On our day I’m confident we can beat any team, but having knockout games at Franklin’s Gardens certainly gives us the edge.
GR: What’s the dream for 2015 – a Saints Treble and a World Cup Final against the All Blacks (and an England win of course)?
DH: I’d sleep easy if it was guaranteed! Unfortunately it’s not so here’s to many sleepless nights!
GR: Let’s talk about the triumphant Mo that you grew for Movember – what reactions did you get for it? Who in the England camp had the best, and how did your Front Mo Union campaign go?
DH: This year the Front Mo Union was the UKs 4th highest team in terms of funds raised - a great achievement for all involved. I’m so humbled by the generosity shown by everyone who contributed. From the Front Mo Union – the best mo had to be Tom Wood, and a close 2nd was 12 year old William Heath who raised £6,000 by himself!! He obviously couldn’t grow a mo so he dressed up daily in different outfits showcasing some of the world’s most iconic moustaches such as Tom Selleck, Hulk Hogan, Ali G and many more!
GR: Big question then - which Mo would you be prouder to rock – Selleck or Hogan?
DH: Tom Selleck all the way. His moustache looks good in a traditional tuxedo and in the double denim of a Texas tuxedo. It’s so versatile. The Hulkster has totally pigeonholed himself.
GR: What are the top three items on the Christmas list you’ll send to Santa?
DH: A Hackett Suit, Churches boots and a full tool shed as I’m about to start doing DIY on my new house!
GR: What is the best present you’ve ever bought anyone? Was it fully appreciated?
DH: I purchased a flight to NZ for my friend so she could see her family for Christmas! I’m pretty sure she loved it.
GR: Final question: Which type of Christmas do you prefer – the beautiful traditional English white cold Christmas or the hot New Zealand beach Christmas?
DH: Definitely traditional English. The Christmas lights, markets, snow, log fires, pubs and comfort eating! Plus Santa and his reindeer can’t handle a hot Christmas so they don’t bother dropping presents down there.
Dylan Hartley is a Gilbert Rugby ambassador. He is the Northampton Saints captain and has been capped 61 times by England.