Thu, Dec 21, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Ashton confirmed as new England rugby head coach

AFP , LONDON

Brian Ashton was appointed England's rugby union head coach yesterday, taking over from Andy Robinson.

The 60-year-old Ashton will take over his coaching duties with immediate effect, the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) said in a statement.

His first game in charge will be the Six Nations opener against Scotland at Twickenham on Feb. 3.

"It's a massive privilege and honor to be asked to do the job," Ashton said. "I recognize the challenges ahead of us and along with the other coaches my focus now is to prepare the England team to play Scotland."

Ashton was appointed England's attack coach in May and he will continue to work with forwards coach John Wells and defense coach Mike Ford the RFU statement said.

He would then have nine further games before England launch their World Cup defense against the US in Lens on Sept. 8.

Robinson was sacked last month after presiding over 13 defeats in the 22 internationals since he took over from his former boss, the World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward.

Elite Rugby Director Rob Andrew, who recommended Ashton, said he was the most experienced coach in England.

"He has enormous respect with the players and he has massive international and club experience," Andrew said.

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