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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 December 2007, 17:43 GMT
Ashton given 'long-term' contract
England head coach Brian Ashton
Ashton has just completed 12 months as England head coach
England coach Brian Ashton has been given an "indefinite" length contract, according to Rugby Football Union elite rugby director Rob Andrew.

Andrew says he envisages Ashton, who led England to this year's World Cup final, staying until the 2011 event.

"It is very much a long-term project," said Andrew.

"The contract is indefinite, with no time limit. Brian might be here in 2015. It has a notice period, like all contracts have."

The RFU announced on Wednesday that Ashton, as well as assistant coaches Mike Ford and John Wells, would remain in their jobs after Andrew's post-World Cup review.

Andrew stated that Ashton, whose original 12-month rolling contract was due to expire at the end of this month, has the option to add to his coaching team and that a team manager is likely to be appointed.

606: DEBATE

"One of the appointments Brian wants to make is a team manager," Andrew told BBC Radio 5 Live. "We have said he can appoint a team manager of his choosing.

"What Brian and I have to do is define the job description that he wants for an England team manager."

Ashton's relationship with his coaches, particularly the more conservative, forwards-orientated view of Wells, came in for criticism during the World Cup.

But Ashton, known for his more free-flowing vision of the game, says there is no clash of cultures and insists he is happy that the coaching team will stay together.

"It's not a clash, but there's a difference in philosophy there and both of us will acknowledge that. But that's not a problem," he said. "I think that's a good thing. What you don't want is a backroom staff full of yes-men.

Shaun Edwards is an outstanding coach, not just a defence coach

Brian Ashton
"You need people around you who are going to question what you are doing. That's how you get the best out of not only them, but yourself as well."

One addition to the senior England coaching staff, possibly as coach of the second-string Saxons, could be highly regarded Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards.

The rugby league legend has helped Wasps to three Premiership titles and two Heineken Cups and has also been offered a role by new Wales coach Warren Gatland.

"Shaun Edwards is an outstanding coach, not just a defence coach," said Ashton.

"To whichever team he was making a contribution, it would be a very, very good one."

Andrew, who confirmed the RFU has spoken to Edwards about various roles, said Edwards "wants to stay at Wasps full-time and work part-time on the international stage".

Under Premier Rugby regulations club coaches are not allowed to work with the full England squad, although on Monday they amended the rule to allow the RFU to get Edwards involved, but only with regard to the Saxons. He is not expected to make a decision on whether to accept the role until at least the weekend.

Ashton took over as head coach exactly 12 months ago after being promoted in the wake of Andy Robinson's dismissal.

We need the players and coaching team in place who have the ambition, vision and desire to drive the English game forward

Brian Ashton

He took over a side at rock bottom following a run of eight defeats in nine Tests but turned around England's fortunes by taking them to the World Cup final against South Africa.

But Ashton's coaching style divided opinion in France with senior players Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt criticising the head coach when the squad returned home.

Andrew consulted England players and management and coaches from around the Premiership as he formulated his review which was discussed by the RFU on Wednesday.

And Ashton, who will name a 32-man squad for the Six Nations on 9 January, said he was "very proud" to have had his contract extended.

"I am looking forward to getting on with it," said the 61-year-old former Bath coach. "I look at the way forward in three stages.

"In 2008 there is the Six Nations and the New Zealand tour, the next period is to the end of the 2009 Argentina tour and then we ought to be in a good position to move forward to the 2011 World Cup.

"There are short, medium and long-term objectives over the next four years.

We have come a long way since the start of the year and now we have a chance to move England on to another level

Assistant coach Mike Ford
"We know we need to move our game forward. We need to be able to play in different ways and we need a management team and squad of players prepared to work to that end.

"We need the players and coaching team in place who have the ambition, vision and desire to drive the English game forward."

Two of the management team at the World Cup have left their posts, with video analyst Tony Biscombe retiring this week and team administrator Viv Brown "leaving the employ of the RFU" according to Andrew.

Wells and Ford have both welcomed the chance to continue their roles alongside Ashton.

Wells said: "We have an exciting group of young forwards coming through such as (Wasps') James Haskell, Luke Narraway at Gloucester and Jordan Crane at Leicester, while (Wasps') Tom Rees is looking like he is back to his best.

"These guys will be looking to challenge the group of players who did so well during the World Cup and we are excited about what's ahead of us."

Ford added: "I am pleased that we can build on what was achieved in France and I am looking forward to getting back together for the Six Nations.

"We have come a long way since the start of the year and now we have a chance to move England on to another level."



SEE ALSO
What they say about Ashton
20 Dec 07 |  Rugby Union
Ashton confirmed as England coach
19 Dec 07 |  Rugby Union
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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