Coaches back Ashton

A trio of highly-respected coaches have joined forces to condemn the decisions of Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt to publicly criticise England coach Brian Ashton’s performance at the World Cup.

Former England coach Andy Robinson, ex-Scotland and British & Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan and Bristol director of rugby Richard Hill claimed that the dressing room bond of loyalty should be strictly observed, even when players publish autobiographies.

Ashton is not the only coach to have been heavily criticised in recent days.

Wales’ most-capped player Gareth Thomas has also weighed in to former national coaches Mike Ruddock and Graham Henry in parts of his book.

“There’s a lot that happens within a team and there’s a process that you develop. Rugby is the greatest team game you can play and leadership is vital within that,” Edinburgh director of rugby Robinson said at the Heineken Cup launch in Cardiff.

“There will be times when you needle each other, times when you’re going to be cuddling each other and times when you’re going to have disagreements.

“There will be times you’ll make mistakes and times you’ll do really well and all those aspects have got to stay within the camp.

“That’s part of the bond of being part of a team, in my opinion. It’s part of being nuclear as a team. Having disagreements is part of it.

“I very rarely criticised England players in the press. I don’t think I’ve ever done that and I won’t. It’s part of a coach’s job and you can do it face-to-face, one-on-one, but I don’t think people should be making statements out of that scenario.

“Team-ship is a bond that you have and it’s vital you are trustworthy to everybody and to me the bag man is as important within a team as the chief executive, to the head coach, the goal-kickers and everybody.”

Former England captain Hill was in agreement with Phil Vickery’s defence of Ashton.

“I would endorse what Phil Vickery has said about Brian Ashton. A lot of things go on in rugby clubs and he made a very important point,” Hill said.

“As an example, we’ve got 54 players at Bristol and you can never keep that number happy.

“And you can never keep the whole World Cup squad happy because everyone wants to play in the starting XV and even in that starting line-up they will have ideas about how they want to play or get their involvement in the game.

“They may not like the fact the coach is telling them, ‘you’re not going to be doing this’, but you have to respect what the coach says and go along with it.

“It is always a bit disappointing to see players piping up and showing a bit of disloyalty to what goes on behind closed doors. What happens behind closed doors has to be kept behind them and not be for public consumption.

“Unfortunately, an autobiography lends itself to a few home truths. It’s a shame when it happens in sport, particularly when a team has done really well.

“It is disappointing and I think I share the views of most people who believe it’s not the right way to go about it.

“Sometimes things get taken out of context and Mike Catt has now come out and supported Brian Ashton and said he should get a contract to the next World Cup.

“It’s a shame all this has come out at a time when the general perception of the English public is what a fantastic achievement it has been to go from where they were nine months ago to where they are now.

“The perception on the outside is that Brian has done a brilliant job to take a squad that was a bit of a shambles to the World Cup final. On the face of it, to the average punter that is a fantastic thing to have done.

“Why go and spoilt it and prick that little bubble with one or two comments? People have to understand that things like that always go on in rugby clubs.

“When you get 30 players who are full of testosterone, have strong opinions and ar

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