Former England coach Ashton lands Director of Coaching job

Former England rugby coach Brian Ashton has gone down the path forged by predecessor Sir Clive Woodward into an overseeing position which encompasses a range of sports.


Ashton, effectively forced out by the Rugby Football Union earlier this year in favour of former England captain Martin Johnson, was appointed on Tuesday to the newly-created post of director of coaching at the University of Bath, one of Britain’s leading centres for student sport.


This means the 62-year-old, who lives in the south-west English city where he made his name as a coach with Premiership side Bath, will be overseeing coaches and competitors in such diverse sports as track and field, judo, netball and hockey.


Woodward, who guided England to World Cup glory in 2003, is currently director of elite performance at the British Olympic Association where he aims to help the hosts enjoy a plentiful medal haul at the 2012 London Games.


“It’s not necessarily the end of my involvement in the game of rugby, although I will have my hands full with the massive challenge I’ve taken on here at the University of Bath,” said Ashton, who admitted he’d been approached about coaching several leading clubs in Britain and Europe.


University of Bath director of sports development and recreation Ged Roddy said: “There are clear parallels between what Sir Clive Woodward is doing at Great Britain level ahead of the 2012 Games and what Brian will be doing here at the University of Bath.


“Both are engaged in applying their expertise to make sure Britain develops young sports men and women who will be given the best chance they can possibly have of competing for medals in London.”


Ashton, after steering England to a surprise 2007 World Cup final appearance against eventual champions South Africa, was pushed out of his job following the side’s defeats against Wales and Scotland in this year’s Six Nations.


Many of his supporters and detractors all agreed that the drawn out way in which his departure was handled reflected little credit on the RFU, with the role of elite rugby director Rob Andrew, the former England stand-off, called into question.


“I have many emotions about my time with England, but that’s a story for another time. It’s a closed chapter and I’m now looking forward to a new and very broad challenge here at the University of Bath,” said Ashton.


He is now set to allocate 150 days a year to his new role, on top of the 60 which his new sports consultancy firm will undertake on behalf of the RFU after Ashton rejected an offer by the governing body to return to his former role of England academy coach.


Several British Olympians, including swimmer Mark Foster, judoka Kate Howey and hurdler Colin Jackson have based themselves at the University of Bath, currently home to promising sprinter Craig Pickering.


Sapa-AFP Rugbyweek.com

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