Wed, Dec 20, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Brian Ashton tipped for top England rugby post


Then England head coach Andy Robinson, left, embraces head attack coach Brian Ashton in the stands before England's rugby union Test match against South Africa at Twickenham in London on Nov. 25. Ashton is tipped to be announced as Robinson's replacement today.


Brian Ashton is expected to be installed as England's rugby coach in London today for next year's Six Nations championship and the World Cup, the British press reported.

Should the 60-year-old Lancastrian land the role, he would start with England's opening Six Nations game against Scotland at Twickenham on Feb. 3.

Ashton would then have nine further games before England launch their World Cup defense against the US in Lens on Sept. 8, with France (three times), Wales (twice), South Africa (twice), Ireland and Italy all on the agenda.

Ashton's anticipated promotion from his current job as England head attack coach should ensure a relatively seamless transition as England desperately seek stability and continuity following three miserable years.

England have won just 12 from 30 Tests since Martin Johnson held aloft the Webb Ellis Trophy at Sydney's Telstra Stadium.

World Cup mastermind Clive Woodward presided over three of those victories, then Robinson's failed 22-game reign produced only nine wins as England plummeted down the International Rugby Board official world rankings.

Ashton's only previous experience as an international head coach hardly set pulses racing. He oversaw a forgettable period in charge of Ireland in 1997 and 1998, having initially replaced Murray Kidd before another New Zealander -- Warren Gatland -- stepped in after Ashton resigned.

Ireland's results during that spell included a record 46-6 home defeat against England, and Ashton went on to join the red rose coaching staff under Woodward in 1998 for four years, then land an appointment as RFU national academy manager before linking up with England again seven months ago following a short second period in charge at Bath.

Ashton's coaching team for next year will include current colleagues John Wells (forwards) and Mike Ford (defense), while it is understood an addition to the trio could come in scrummaging specialist Phil Keith-Roach, who was part of the England 2003 World Cup support staff.

Snedden selected

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden will leave the organization in May of next year to take control of New Zealand's hosting of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd announced yesterday that Snedden would take on the role of its chief executive.

Snedden became New Zealand's cricket boss in August 2001, having previously been a member of the organization's board of directors.

"The position of Rugby World Cup CEO will be challenging and I am looking forward to taking up the role," he said in a statement. "The Rugby World Cup 2011 will be an exciting time for New Zealand as we host one of the world's premier sports events and I am excited about being part of this."

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