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Ashton proud and delighted

20 December 2007

December 20, 2007

Brian Ashton today spoke of his "delight" at being reappointed as England Head Coach before joining Elite Rugby Director Rob Andrew in outlining the future development of the national team's management and support staff.

Ashton continues in the head coach role on an indefinite basis, the two men are discussing adding a senior rugby figure to take a team manager role on the England staff and confirmed they have offered London Wasps coach Shaun Edwards a role in the England Saxons set-up.

There are to be further future changes and additions to the England support staff following the retirement of Technical Support Manager Tony Biscombe and the departures of Vivienne Brown (team manager), Phil Pask (physiotherapist) and Richard Wegrzyk (masseur).

Ashton, who will name his 32-man squad for the 2008 RBS 6 Nations on January 9, also underlined his commitment to making sure England lead the way as the world game develops on and off the field with Forwards Coach John Wells and Defence Coach Mike Ford.

"I'm absolutely delighted to continue and it's a fantastic honour. I'm very proud to have been asked to do the job again," Ashton said.

"The next stage for us is going into the 2008 RBS 6 Nations and then the summer tour to New Zealand. Then from August the new agreement [with Premier Rugby Limited] kicks in with more access to players. You're then looking forward to the 2009 Argentina tour when some of our best players are with the Lions. After all that we'll be in a good position to look forward to the next Rugby World Cup.

"What I want now is a management team that reflects the way we want to go forward. While we need to retain the traditional qualities of the English game, we also need to move forward.

"A year ago we started work as a coaching team and it's been a tough year. It would be foolish not to let that coaching team continue to develop. What I don't want is to be surrounded by 'yes men'. You need different views and you need challenging in every area."

Andrew clarified Ashton's tenure in the job following speculation that he only had a one-year contract.

"I don't regard this as a short-term appointment," Andrew said.

"Brian and I have talked about where we want to go in six months, 18 months and in four years. It's an indefinite contract, so he might be here in 2015.

"Following the review process we've held on to the coaching personnel we've got and now we want to move forward with the rest of the management and support staff to give Brian what he wants.

"This isn't the end of the decision making process and the role of a team manager will be part of this. Over the next few months I'm sure we'll make more announcements."

Andrew also thanked Biscombe, Pask, Wegrzyk and Brown for their important contributions to the England cause over recent years.

Ashton added that he hoped a managerial appointment would be made in the next few months.

He said: "It would be nice if possible to get a team manager in place for the RBS 6 Nations. It would be someone who takes a lot of the responsibility for off-field stuff during Test weeks and performs a similar sort of role to the team manager on a British and Irish Lions tour."

Andrew confirmed that Wasps coach Edwards had been offered a role following a PRL decision to allow club coaches to work part-time in the international game.

"Until this week, we couldn't use coaches who were full-time with a Premiership club because of a PRL decision made four or five years ago," he said.

"We've managed to secure an agreement that allows coaches to work at Saxons level on a part-time basis and we've offered the role of Head Coach of England Saxons to Shaun Edwards."

Ashton added: "Shaun is an outstanding coach and any side he's involved with will benefit from his abilities."

He was questioned about whether he had any ambitions to lead the Lions in South Africa in 2009 when England would be touring Argentina.

"If I'm head coach of England I'll be going on the England tour," he replied. "That's my job."



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