Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Ashton's Future Is in Andrew's Hands; Martin Johnson Expected to Get Managerial Role

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Ashton's Future Is in Andrew's Hands; Martin Johnson Expected to Get Managerial Role

Article excerpt

Byline: ALEX LOWE

BRIAN Ashton will discover exactly what future - if any - he has as England's head coach when Rob Andrew fronts a specially-convened management board meeting at Twickenham today, writes ALEX LOWE.

Former Newcastle Falcons coach Andrew is expected to propose World Cupwinning captain Martin Johnson as England's new hands-on team manager, an appointment which could undermine Ashton's position.

Ashton had been promised a manager of his own choosing - someone who would share the managerial and administrative burden but who would not get involved in rugby affairs.

But that changed after the Six Nations Championship when senior officials at the Rugby Football Union grew concerned over England's inconsistent performances.

Director of elite rugby Andrew was given the green light to recruit Johnson, who is unlikely to accept the role unless he is granted full control over England affairs. But that would leave Ashton, who guided England to the World Cup final last autumn and their best Six Nations finish in five years, in limbo having lost his powers of selection and his authori ty.

If that scenario pans out, Ashton could feasibly build a strong case for constructive dismissal. The RFU have publicly insisted they want Ashton to remain on board but critics describe the union's treatment of the head coach as "appalling".

Former national coach Dick Best believes Ashton still has a huge amount to offer England under Johnson, but he cannot see any way Ashton would agree to continue working for the RFU.

"I find it amazing that in this day and age of human resources they have the audacity to treat someone in this fashion," said Best. "Brian has a very good track record and he is probably still the best attacking coach in the country.

"I don't think he has been consulted the whole way through the process. It has been incredibly badly handled but that is in keeping with the way the RFU handle their business.

"Brian is 61. Does he need to be treated like this? He is a very proud man. I believe he is meeting with them today.

"I think Brian Ashton may well make the decision himself. …

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