Win Dylan Hartley’s autobiography

Dylan Hartley’s brilliant autobiography, The Hurt, sheds light on the former England captain’s turbulent but highly successful 16-year professional playing career in rugby. You can read a review of the book here.

At the bottom of this article, we’re offering you a chance to win one of five copies in a competition. First, by way of a taster, here’s an extract from the book – written with Michael Calvin – that conveys what it’s like to be in the middle of the front row during a scrum…

Win Dylan Hartley's brilliant autobiography

Pressure on: the hooker packs down for Northampton Saints against Castres in 2016 (AFP/Getty Images)

“You hear people wheezing, as their wind supply gets cut off. They emit a long, low groan as the pressure intensifies, writes Dylan Hartley.

Dribble seeps out, and runs down their chin. Mouthguards drop in the no man’s land between sets of forwards squeezing maximum force through your neck and spine. You are pinned, naturally looking down to the floor in anticipation of the ball coming in from your left.

You can’t move once the packs engage but attempt to ride the weight being applied. Sometimes you are comfortable with the strain. When it goes bad, and the scrum shifts at an angle, either going backwards or forwards, people are propelled across, over or top of each other. Everything is compromised, and you are in real trouble.

The memory of one scrum, at Bath, stays with me, like a childhood nightmare. My head went light. I could see stars because I didn’t want to exhale, impulsively weaken and lose the advantage of having a chest full of air. The easy way out was to stop binding with my loosehead prop, and allow their big tighthead to exploit the seam between us.

Dylan Hartley book cover

That’s against instruction and instinct. We’re told to keep holding that tighthead down, and keep him in such pain that he loses the battle of wills. I was holding, holding, holding, in the crystal-clear knowledge that I was on the verge of fainting. It felt as if I was being choked. I’m thinking to myself, ‘F**k, I’m gone. I’m going now. I’m going, going…’

But I didn’t. Their tighthead suddenly succumbed. He had reached his point of no return. To use the brutal, but metaphorical, language of the front row, he had ‘died’. We won the penalty, the scrum ended, and my head popped up into the noise. I stood up and, boom, I blacked out. I fell flat on my face, woke up instantly, and got on with the game.

Welcome to my world, the heart of darkness that is rugby’s front row.”


Dylan Hartley’s autobiography, The Hurt, is published by Viking Press, RRP £20, and comes highly recommended. You can buy it by clicking on the link below.

* BUY NOW with Amazon

We also have five copies of the book to give away. For a chance to win one, just answer the question below and fill in your details. The competition closes on Thursday 5 November.

England scrum in training, 2009

The best: this England tighthead (left) left a lasting impression on Hartley – but who is he? (Getty Images)

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Terms and conditions

The competition closes at 11.59pm on Thursday 5 November 2020.

Five winners will be selected at random, each winning a copy of ‘The Hurt’ by Dylan Hartley.

Normal Future Plc competition rules apply. Competition details form part of these terms and conditions. Entry is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands and Republic of Ireland except employees (and their families) of Future Plc, its printers and agents, the suppliers of the prizes and any other companies associated with the competitions. The winners must be aged 18 or over. Proof of identity and age may be required. Use of a false name or address will result in disqualification. All entries must be made directly by the person entering the competition. Entries made online using methods generated by a script, macro or the use of automated devices will be void. The prizes are as stated, are not transferable to another individual and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. Prizes are subject to availability and the prize suppliers’ terms and conditions. The promoters reserve the right to amend or alter the terms of competitions and reject entries from entrants not entering into the spirit of the competition. The winner agrees to the use of his or her name, photograph and disclosure of county of residence and will co-operate with any other reasonable requests by Future Plc relating to any post-winning publicity. The winners will be chosen from all correct entries received by the closing date stated within the promotional material. Winners will be confirmed in writing. Reasonable efforts will be made to contact a winner. Failure to respond and/or provide an address for delivery, or failure to meet the eligibility requirements may result in forfeiture of the prize. If they cannot be contacted, or are unable to comply with these terms and conditions, the Promoter reserves the right to offer the prize to the next eligible entrant drawn at random. Where applicable, the decision of the judges is final based on the criteria set out in the promotion and no correspondence will be entered into over this decision. Competitions may be modified or withdrawn at any time. The Service Provider and contact details are specified within the promotional material. When you enter this competition you are consenting to be added to the regular Rugby World newsletters and that Future Plc and its partners may contact you about relevant products or services and research via email. You can opt out at any time via the unsubscribe messages in the emails you are sent.