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Ask Ashton - February 29 2008

29 February 2008

Each week during the 2008 RBS 6 Nations,  will be giving England fans the opportunity to quiz England Rugby Head Coach Brian Ashton.  To submit your question simply e-mail

This week's questions have all been submitted by rugby volunteers, working in various capacities for clubs across the country.

Q England's players come together for a relatively short period of time before the start of tournaments, how do you manage leadership in a team full of high achievers? 
Sean McCann, Coach Millwall RFC & Essex RFUW

A  We all know that we have limited preparation time this year but that will change next year under the new RFU/PRL agreement. There is leadership amongst the players and they showed that throughout the team when they won in Paris last weekend. 

Q   England have toiled to build up deserved first half leads and in a way that looks like it will be built upon.  What has been the focus and tone for the half time team talk and what needs to change to have a more galvanising effect on the second half performance in future games?
Stuart Venning, Under 13s coach, Bicester RUFC

A  The half time team talks are aimed at continuing the processes of the first half. That's what happened in Paris last Saturday and it had the desired effect. 

Q  Why not give Vainikolo a run out in the number 12 or 13 jersey.  He's and impact player and takes a lot of stopping and will suck in defenders which could create gaps for the lighter, faster men to exploit. 
Chris Walch, Army Air Corps rugby, France

A I think Lesley is more effective on the wing and it was good to see that he got a lot more ball in England's last game against France.  

Q As a mini/junior coach who has recently gained level 1 and is keen to progress as a coach, what advice would you give from your experience in coaching? And If you had my under 10's for one session what would be the one thing/most important thing you would want to do with them?
Rob Anderson, Birmingham

A That's a good question, patience is the most important virtue. It's important to make sure the kids enjoy the session. I would say that's the key thing. 

Q  When you coached me at Hutton (1973 onwards) you installed into us a freedom to play, and to enjoy how we played, on the back of regular training. Do you feel that professional players these days are forced to play NOT to lose rather than a desire to win, or do they sometimes lack the intelligence/ability to see space and opportunities because of tendencies of their club games?

All the best for the future as England Coach, Duncan Parker, Old Huttonian & PGRFC

A The players always go on the field in a very positive frame of mind with the aim of winning the game and they have the ability to do that. We are working with the players and helping them to use their decision making powers during matches.