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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 16:41 GMT
Ashton quits academy to join Bath
Brian Ashton
Former Bath coach Brian Ashton will return to the role and take over from John Connolly from 1 January.

The 59-year-old former Ireland head coach and England assistant coach previously held the top job at Bath between 1994 and 1996.

He will step down as England's National Academy manager to replace Connolly who is returning to his native Australia.

"This move gives me the opportunity to do hands-on coaching on a daily basis," Ashton said in a RFU statement.

Ashton was due to coach England A this season but this will now be done by academy coach John Wells.

Connolly will leave his post at the end of November, with fellow Australians Richard Graham and Mike Foley taking temporary charge in December.

Brian's appointment as head coach is an exciting step for this club
Matt Perry
Bath vice captain

"Bath Rugby is a great club and I have experienced a wonderful two and a half years here, but I have always said that it was time to move on," Connolly told the club's website.

"However, the club is being left in a good position and in very safe hands. I would like to wish Brian all the very best."

Bath chairman Andrew Brownsword added: "The appointment is an important step in the building process to ensure that Bath Rugby remains a force to be reckoned with in Europe.

"Brian has the experience and recognised ability to extend the excellent progress achieved in the past three rebuilding seasons.

"I know that Brian will be given full support from everyone associated with Bath Rugby."

Bath vice-captain Matt Perry said: "Brian is an extremely experienced and respected coach. His appointment as head coach is an exciting step for this club."

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