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'It's all bull****' - Dylan Hartley rubbishes claims England players were 'fatigued' and the 'faceless experts' behind controversial debrief

By Ian Cameron
Press Association

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Former England captain Dylan Hartley has questioned who exactly had the expertise to judge head coach Eddie Jones following the publication of the RFU’s controversial Six Nations debrief. The hooker, who retired in 2019 with 97 caps, also rubbished the idea that the players were fatigued.


The RFU recently published the finding of their debrief into England’s calamitous Six Nations performance –  with Jones’ side coming in fifth place, equalling their worst ever tournament finish.

The report was widely criticised, most notably by World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, who branded it as ‘scandalous’ and ‘cringeworthy’.

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Dylan Hartley on the Six Nations debrief:
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Dylan Hartley on the Six Nations debrief:

Speaking on the RugbyPass Offload with Christina Mahon and Simon Zebo, Hartley questioned the resume of the report’s so-called experts, who remained anonymous.

“Every organisation reviews and debriefs and consults. It’s almost like in society now we pander to everyone, we’ve got to answer to everyone.

“Review Eddie Jones, review the performance, set expectations and standards, we all know what they are; to win, to high achieve and to perform. But don’t put it in the public domain.

“It feels like one person has said make it public, and they’ve gone ‘Ohhh, we don’t want to offend that one guy. So let’s make it public.”


“So for me, sitting there, I don’t understand why they’re airing their dirty laundry in public. Keep it internal.

He also questioned how the experts behind the debrief could remain anonymous.

“I’m sitting here as a member of the public and a supporter and a fan of English rugby, then okay, if you’re going to put it in the public, then who are the respected rugby experts that have formed these opinions?

“It’s a bit like when you read a story about the Royal Family and it says ‘a friend of the family said this’. Put a name to it, stand by your words.


“If Eddie Jones is going to get that feedback, then let us know who it’s from; who are his bosses, who is he pleasing, who is he answering to? If it’s just like the faceless man then it’s just a bit weird.

“Here’s a question, why not get a recently retired player like a James Haskell… someone that’s worked with Eddie and understands him. You might get someone that has a bias that supports him – like I clearly do – but to form a balanced argument or discussion, you need to hear from all parties.

“When I think of external consultants, I think of Bill Beaumont from 1953 or whenever – I mean I love you Bill – but do they mean guys who were playing in the 1980s? I’ve heard these guys on the TV and some of them haven’t a clue what they’re talking about,” said Hartley, who appeared as a pundit during the tournament. “Even me going on telly now, I’m behind.”

Hartley dismisses the idea that the players were fatigued, as the debrief suggested.

“A faceless rugby expert has said they were fatigued. I don’t think they were fatigued. How can Saracens players be fatigued when they haven’t played any rugby?

“We were saying they needed game time, then how can you say a third of the team were fatigued. I think it’s all bull***.”

“The players need to better. The coaches need to be better. They’ve got the cattle, they got good enough players. The competition got better. They need to get better.”

“Do you know what, this happens. We won back-to-back tournaments. Third-year we came fifth. Tom Curry emerged, James Haskell moved. Dylan Hartley moved on, Jamie George promoted.

“That’s the cyclical nature of performance. Eddie doesn’t have to change, just change up his selections. Tweak up a few things, who knows, we cpuld be in a World Cup final.”


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