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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 18:08 GMT
Ashton confirmed as England coach
Brian Ashton
Ashton took charge of England after Andy Robinson left in 2006
England coach Brian Ashton will keep his job following Rob Andrew's post-World Cup review, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) said on Wednesday.

Ashton's rolling one-year deal was due to expire at the end of December but the RFU has deemed the 61-year-old the best candidate to take England forward.

Assistant coaches John Wells and Mike Ford will also stay on board.

"I'm delighted that Brian and his team will remain with England," said Andrew, England's elite rugby director.

"Like them, I'm looking forward to what will be a challenging international year in 2008."

The RFU is expected to clarify the length of the coaches' contracts at a news conference at 1300 GMT on Thursday.

606: DEBATE

Ex-Bath coach Ashton took England to the World Cup final after less than a year in charge but his coaching style divided opinion among England players in France.

Andrew conducted a wide-ranging review and delivered his report having consulted England players and management and coaches from around the Premiership.

"It's been a thorough review and a process that everyone from the coaches to the players and the management all supported," he said.

I would have been upset if I'd lost my job after taking a team to the World Cup final

Shaun Edwards

The re-appointment of forwards coach Wells and defence mastermind Ford appears to rule out a role for Wasps coach Shaun Edwards.

Edwards now seems likely to take up an offer to act as a part-time assistant to Wales boss and former Wasps colleague Warren Gatland.

"I think there was a lot of talk about Shaun Edwards being the new messiah," said BBC Radio Five Live's rugby correspondent Ian Robertson.

"But once he was ruled out of the equation, it made sense to secure the services of the three men who helped England to the World Cup final."

And Edwards himself expressed his delight with the decision to retain Ashton and his coaching staff.

Mike Ford and John Wells
Mike Ford and John Wells also remain in their posts

"There would have been no justice in the world if they had lost their jobs after getting to the World Cup final," Edwards told the Daily Telegraph.

"I would have been upset if I'd lost my job after taking a team to the World Cup final."

England international prop Matt Stevens backed the RFU's decision to keep faith with Ashton, Wells and Ford.

"I am really glad for them all," he said.

"We managed to develop throughout the World Cup. Brian wasn't too obdurate to change things even though he was under a huge amount of pressure.

"Coaching at international level is all about experience and I'm sure he will take a lot from the World Cup.

"This England team has a lot of talent and the tools to play enterprising rugby.

Coaching at international level is all about experience and I'm sure Brian will take a lot from the World Cup

Matt Stevens

"I'm looking forward to the next year and the Six Nations."

Ashton has had a rollercoaster ride since replacing Andy Robinson in December last year.

His side defeated Scotland, Italy and France in the Six Nations before they lost both Tests on the illness and injury-hit tour of South Africa.

They struggled for form at the start of the World Cup and looked on the brink of a humiliating exit when they were thumped 36-0 by South Africa, a defeat which led to clear-the-air talks involving management and players.

The meeting had the desired effect and after saving their campaign with victories over Samoa and Tonga, memorable wins against Australia and France in the knockout stages put them in their second straight World Cup final.

England's next match is their 2008 Six Nations opener against Wales at Twickenham on 2 February.

SEE ALSO
Wilkinson to keep links to Black
11 Dec 07 |  Newcastle
England stars feel wrath of RFU
01 Nov 07 |  English
Critical Catt backs coach Ashton
31 Oct 07 |  English
What now for Ashton?
23 Oct 07 |  English
Andrew vows to build on success
22 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Vickery backs influence of Ashton
21 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union


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