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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 March 2007, 18:33 GMT
England 'now in second division'
England coach Brian Ashton
Ashton has had to plan without a number of key players
Brian Ashton believes England have been relegated to the "second division" of world rugby as they prepare for Sunday's Six Nations clash with France.

The England coach has made 11 changes as his side seek to recover from their heavy defeat by Ireland in Dublin.

"We need to start climbing the ladder again," said Ashton.

"I said to the players that we are now in the second division of world rugby and will be playing a division one side on Sunday."

My job is to develop a side with more dynamism and pace

Brian Ashton

Ashton added: "Rugby players are pretty resilient guys. We didn't have a great day at the office in Dublin, and there were a lot of reasons for that, but we have got to try to bounce back.

"The performance in Dublin wasn't acceptable at international level and we will have to do better."

England have an outside chance of landing the Six Nations title but a defeat to France would condemn them to a third successive championship where they have flattered to deceive.

SIX NATIONS BLOG
BBC Sport's James Standley

But Ashton knows that with the World Cup fast approaching, there needs to be a swift improvement.

"My job is to develop a side with more dynamism and pace which can make a serious defence of the World Cup," he said.

"I would like flexibility and agility in line-outs and I want the forwards to inject a bit more bite and dynamism and pace into our attack, which was an area we were outplayed in last time out.

"If we are going to make progress this year in a short space of time, we need to put together a game that is more challenging across the field than the one we played against Ireland."


SEE ALSO
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment
Guscott's England verdict
06 Mar 07 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 43-13 England
24 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union


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