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Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 13:29 UK

Former England coach Brian Ashton returns to Fylde

Brian Ashton
Ashton left his role as England coach in 2008

Former England head coach Brian Ashton has agreed to return to his old club Fylde as a coaching consultant.

The 63-year-old, who was appointed director of rugby at the University of Bath in 2008, guided England to the Rugby World Cup final in 2007.

"Fylde helped me in launching my playing career in the 1960's," Ashton told BBC Radio Lancashire.

"So now there's an opportunity to return the favour and give something back to the club."

Ashton, who received an MBE in 2007, spent seven years at the Woodlands between 1966-73, playing alongside club stalwarts Bill Beaumont and Malcolm Phillips.

He later went on to coach England despite never having represented them at playing level.

Ashton was part of the coaching set up at Bath between 1989-1997, during their most successful period in English club rugby, before he returned to The Rec for a second spell in 2006.

BRIAN ASHTON FACTFILE
1946: Born in Leigh, Lancs
Played for: Tyldesley, Fylde, Orrell, Lancashire, England North, Barbarians, AS Montferrand, Roma, Milan
1989-94: Bath assistant coach
1994-97: Bath head coach
1997-98: Ireland head coach
1998-02: England asst. coach
2002-05: RFU Academy Mgr
2006: Bath head coach
2006: England attack coach
2006-08: England head coach

His preference for expansive attacking rugby saw him recruited as England assistant coach under Sir Clive Woodward in 1998 and his is largely credited with transforming his country's style of play.

He almost guided them to success in the World Cup final in 2007 before narrowly losing 15-6 to winners South Africa despite a shaky start in the early stages of the competition.

But he believes returning to his roots is just as important and is relishing the chance to improve Fylde's fortunes.

"Things are substantially different," said Ashton. "They now play in a league which we never did and the whole environment has changed, although in essence a lot of things are still the same.

"I'd like to think that one or two of the guys that I know there have retained some of the essential amateurism of the game in terms of playing an enjoyable game of rugby and challenging themselves.

"I would like to stress that director of rugby Mark Nelson is the man in charge.

"I'll support him and do whatever I can to help the players and team develop in an environment of freedom and make it enjoyable."



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