Northampton Saints has announced that Dylan Hartley has signed a new contract with the 2008 Amlin Challenge Cup winner and will be staying at Franklin's Gardens for next coming years.
The new contract is Hartley's third at the Saints. He joined the club in 2005 and four-and-a-half years later he is one of the Saints' longest-serving players with more than 100 appearances under Northampton's jersey.
He made his full international debut against the Pacific Islanders in 2008 and has been involved in every England match day squad since and now has 16 caps to his name.
This season Hartley has been captaining the Saints and is the youngest player to hold such a position in the Guinness Premiership.
"Captaining this club makes me prouder than I can possibly explain so there was never any danger of me not re-signing," he said. "Saints have supported me, stood by me, helped me to grow up and Jim and Dorian very publicly put a huge amount of faith in me by making me the captain of the club and I want to repay that trust and support.
"It's also incredibly important for my development that I spend the next few years playing for a serious rugby-town team run by top coaches, alongside fantastic players, challenging for domestic silverware and playing regular Heineken Cup rugby and this season especially Saints are ticking all of those boxes and more." said the England hooker.
Director of rugby Jim Mallinder says that while Hartley has improved a lot as a player there is still a lot to come.
"Dylan has concentrated hard on all aspects of his game over the past few years and has developed very well as a player," he said. "But although he has plenty of experience at club and international level he is still in the early years of his career and has a lot more time to get better."
The 2000 Heineken Cup winner will face Munster in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals on Saturday, 10 April in Thomond Park.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.