Former England hooker Hartley announces retirement

Hartley won 97 caps for England captaining them 30 times

Hartley won 97 caps for England captaining them 30 times

Former England captain Dylan Hartley has announced his retirement from rugby.

The 33-year-old failed to overcome a knee injury that has plagued him over the past year and has chose to hang up his boots, but he clearly left an impact on those that he played with.

"The last few months have been hard for me both mentally and physically as I've come to terms with the fact that I am no longer able to compete", Hartley said in a statement on his Northampton Saints club website.

Hartley made his global debut in 2008 and was named Eddie Jones' captain ahead of the 2016 Six Nations, when England won the Grand Slam.

Hartley won 97 caps and, before his injury, was in line to lead England at this year's World Cup in Japan.

Ex-England worldwide James Haskell, who spent the previous year of his career alongside Hartley at Northampton, also gave a glowing tribute to the 97-cap England global, saying: "Nobody else could have led England like he did from the aftermath of 2015".

The hooker made 97 appearances for England, captaining his country on 30 occasions, and is the nation's second-most capped player behind Jason Leonard.

"The last few months have been hard for me both mentally and physically as I've come to terms with the fact that I am no longer able to compete", said Hartley in a statement released by the club.

At the time of his career-ending injury, he was co-captain of England but the reserve hooker, and went on to miss the Rugby World Cup, where England reached the final last weekend.

"I have loved my journey in rugby".

As England most-capped hooker and second most-capped men's player of all time, Hartley's worldwide career spanned well over a decade. "I could have never predicted that one day I'd play 14 years for such a special club and go on to captain England".

"My career wasn't ideal, but I wouldn't have had it any other way".

"Northampton Saints has been more than just a club to me".

He is Saints' longest-serving skipper, making 251 appearances for the club and leading them to a Premiership title, two European Challenge Cups and an Anglo-Welsh Cup.

'Dylan has had a significant worldwide career playing for his country having played 97 Tests, and was a tough, enduring character for us, ' said Jones. The final chapter of my career was supposed to go a different way, but that is the nature of professional sport. Hartley's passion and confrontational attitude got him into a lot of trouble throughout his career, but they were surely the qualities that made him such a successful captain as well.

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