Rugby Union

Dylan Hartley demands Grand Slam glory for England against Ireland in Dublin

England captain Dylan Hartley with the Calcutta Cup after their 40-point win over Scotland at Twickenham. Picture by PA 
Duncan Bech

DYLAN Hartley has demanded England choose glory over failure by completing the Grand Slam defence that will establish a new world record for successive Test victories.

Scotland were overwhelmed 61-21 at Twickenham on Saturday as the reigning champions retained their crown with a round of the RBS 6 Nations to spare, amassing seven tries that included a glorious hat-trick for Jonathan Joseph.

They head to Dublin for Saturday's climax to the tournament knowing that victory over Ireland would see Eddie Jones' men become only the sixth team, and the first since 1998, to manage consecutive clean sweeps.

An added incentive is the opportunity to break New Zealand's record sequence of 18 straight wins that was equalled by dismantling the Scots in the highest points total accumulated in the history of the Calcutta Cup.

The milestones are piling up at a rate of knots and Jones reacted to Scotland's unexpected collapse by urging his team to achieve "greatness", a rallying cry echoed by his captain.

"Eddie talked to us about that (greatness) a little bit. We talked about it as well. We have two options - there's failure on one side or you can kick on and get better and hit those lofty heights," Hartley said.

"We've put ourselves in the position to win a Grand Slam in this tournament and that's what we're out to do.

"The performance against Scotland was pretty ruthless so it was a good progression for the team, but we've only equalled New Zealand's record. We'd like to go one further.

"Of course we want that record. We want to get better and win games and that comes as part and parcel with it.

"We want to be the best team in the world, but we're not. That's the reality - we're not. But we've got something to aim for."

Will Carling's vintage side of 1991-92 were the last of three England teams to defend the Grand Slam, leaving Jones fully aware of what is at stake at the Aviva Stadium.

"We've got a fantastic opportunity. It would mean for the players they've achieved greatness. How many times in your life do you get to be great?" Jones said.

"It's exciting. The players were in the dressing room talking about it. They want to do it."

A fortnight after England had produced their worst performance of the Jones era against Italy, their Championship was ignited by possibly the most ruthless attacking display of his 17 matches in charge.

Joseph seized centre stage with the second hat-trick of his international career, two of which were world-class finishes, but the Bath centre also profited from a slick set-piece and the vision of George Ford and Owen Farrell inside him.

Scotland invited their downfall through some flimsy defending, but the speed and accuracy of the home attack was of greater significance on a day that saw English celebrations muted by the challenge still to come.

"It feels weird because until we finish next weekend it won't feel like we've won the tournament," Hartley said.

"We'll enjoy this, but the focus has to shift pretty quickly because we don't have a two-week turnaround like we did for this game, so we need to be on it from the start.

"We're very pleased with the attack, but we can improve. People have been asking for a better start from the team and we hit the ground running.

"We put pressure on ourselves to start the game well, we do every week, but it's a powerful thing when it goes to plan like it did against Scotland.

"I'm very proud of the team, but it's done now. It was a good performance but we move on.

"There were some good improvements, but we've set the bar pretty high and we will have to meet those expectations again next week."

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