Rugby Dylan Hartley: England and Northampton Saints hooker retires through injury

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Rugby Dylan Hartley (left) with Eddie Jones

Dylan Hartley (left) captained England on 30 occasions

Northampton and England hooker Dylan Hartley has retired from professional rugby after failing to recover from a long-standing knee injury.

The former England captain, 33, has not played since December, missing his country’s run to the World Cup final.

Hartley won 97 Test caps and played 251 times for Northampton over 14 seasons.

“The last few months have been difficult mentally and physically as I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am no longer able to compete,” he said.

“I am extremely proud of my journey, both with Saints and representing England, but now is the right time to hang up my playing boots.”

Only Jason Leonard has played more times for England than Hartley, who skippered them to a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2016, while they also won the Six Nations title the following year.

In addition, Hartley guided the Red Rose to series victories in Australia and Argentina in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

He was never capped by the British & Irish Lions, with a red card in Northampton’s 2013 Premiership final defeat by Leicester costing him a place on the summer tour of Australia.

“My career wasn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” he said.

“I’m privileged to have experienced some amazing highs while there have also been some personal lows, all of which are powerful experiences that will stay with me forever.

“The final chapter of my career was supposed to go a different way, but that is the nature of professional sport.”

Hartley was a controversial choice as England captain, having been banned for a total of 54 weeks for offences such as gouging, biting and striking when he took the armband from Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw before the 2016 Six Nations.

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