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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 December 2006, 11:36 GMT
England appoint Ashton to top job
England head coach Brian Ashton
Born: 3 Sept 1946, Leigh
Playing career: Scrum-half for Tyldesley, Fylde, Orrell, Monferrand, Roma & Milan
Coaching: Bath (1989-1996 & Jan-May 2006), Ireland (1996-98), England assistant (1998-2002 & May 2006-), National Academy Manager (2002-2005)
Former Bath and Ireland coach Brian Ashton has been appointed as England head coach with immediate effect.

Ashton has been promoted from his role as attack coach and will continue to work with forwards and defence specialists John Wells and Mike Ford.

"It's a massive privilege and honour to be asked to do the job," said Ashton.

"I recognise the challenges ahead and, along with the other coaches, my focus now is to prepare the England team to play Scotland in the Six Nations."

Speculation had suggested that Ashton's appointment was a short-term solution until another head coach or manager could be appointed, but the RFU has insisted this is not the case.

Ashton's appointment was unanimously agreed by the Rugby Football Union's management board after his name was put forward by director of elite rugby Rob Andrew.

The 60-year-old will be formally unveiled at a Twickenham news conference at 1600 GMT on Wednesday.

Brian is the right man to lead the coaches and players into a new period for English rugby

RFU director of elite rugby Rob Andrew

Andrew said he had no doubts about moving Ashton up to replace former head coach Andy Robinson, who resigned at the end of November after a dismal run of results.

"Brian is the most experienced coach in England, he has enormous respect with the players and he has massive international and club experience," said Andrew.

"This coaching team have only been together since May and I believe Brian is the right man to lead the coaches and players into a new period for English rugby starting with the Six Nations opener against Scotland (on 3 February 2007)."

But former England prop Jeff Probyn said Ashton's appointment was a mistake.

"It's a short term stopgap and that's not what England need," said Probyn.


"They need to put in place a structure that will take them forward for the next 10 years rather than taking a short-term view.

"The current thinking is obviously let's appoint Brian, get through the World Cup and then appoint someone else.

"Brian works well alongside others who make decisions. Coaching-wise he's the man to take England forward.

"But as a head coach, decision-maker and planner of the broader vision to take England forward, he's not the right man."

However, Ashton received support from former England coach Dick Best.

"I think he's pretty much universally recognised as the right candidate in this situation," Best told BBC Radio Five Live.

The management side of the job is not something that would appeal to him

Former England captain Phil de Glanville

"We're looking to put some rugby together which will hearten rugby supporters in England."

Former England captain Phil de Glanville said Ashton could prosper in his new role, as long as he does not have to take on too many management responsibilities.

"There are positives and negatives - as a coach Brian is world class and he is the right guy to be shaping the way England play," said De Glanville, who played under Ashton at Bath.

"But the management side of the job is not something that would appeal to him and he'd be the first to admit that's not his strength."

Ashton joined up with England for a second time in May, along with Wells and Ford, to help Robinson arrest England's decline since the 2003 World Cup.

Brian Ashton had a spell coaching Ireland
Ashton did not enjoy much success while coaching Ireland

But England's run of eight defeats in their last nine Tests saw Robinson forced out at the end of November.

Ashton was head coach of Ireland between 1997 and 1998, but a lacklustre spell of results saw him replaced by Warren Gatland.

Ireland won only two of their nine Tests under Ashton, losing twice to Italy and suffering heavy defeats at the hands of New Zealand and England during his tenure.

Ashton then spent four years as a member of Sir Clive Woodward's England coaching staff before becoming the RFU National Academy manager.

The Lancastrian has also spent two successful periods at the helm of English Premiership side Bath, where he also served as Jack Rowell's assistant for many years.

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