Ashton follows Woodward out of rugby and into elite sport

Former England rugby head coach Brian Ashton has followed his 2003 Rugby World
Cup-winning predecessor Sir Clive Woodward into the wider world of Olympic

While Woodward is directing the Great Britain squad's preparations for the 2012
Olympics in London, Ashton, who led England's 2003 Rugby World Cup-winners to
the final of the 2007 competition, has been appointed to the newly-created post
of director of coaching at the University of Bath.


New role: Brian Ashton has left rugby union

Ashton, 62, who parted company with the RFU earlier this year to make way for new England team manager Martin Johnson, will oversee the university's elite
coaching and athlete development programmes.

In a major step away from rugby, Ashton will mentor coaches and athletes
training and competing in a raft of 15 sports including athletics, swimming, modern pentathlon, judo, bob skeleton, bobsleigh, badminton, hockey, rowing, triathlon, netball, volleyball and soccer.

'It's not necessarily the end of my involvement in the game of rugby, although I will have my hands full with the massive challenge I've taken on here at the
University of Bath,' said Ashton, who admitted he has had approaches from
several rugby clubs in the UK and Europe trying to tempt him back into harness
at club level.

While Woodward chose to leave England over mounting frustration with the RFU's
lack of support for his calls for more time to work with the international
squad, Ashton was replaced in post.

Ashton, who was awarded an MBE after he led England to the 2007 World Cup final
last autumn, maintained his silence over his feelings about his departure from
the England hot seat, preferring to look forward to the challenge facing him in
his new post.

'I have many emotions about my time with England, but that's a story for
another time. It's a closed chapter and I'm now looking forward to a new and
very broad challenge here at the University of Bath,' said Ashton.

The Bath-based Lancastrian will allocate 150 days of his working year to his
new role, on top of 60 days earmarked to work which his new sports consultancy
company has taken on with the RFU.

Under its Team Bath banner, the University of Bath's sports training village
has provided a base for a list of world-class and Olympic athletes which includes judoka Kate Howie, sprinter Jason Gardner, hurdler Colin Jackson and swimmer Mark Foster.

The next generation led, among others, by sprinter Craig Pickering, is already
hard at work with Great Britain's elite swimming programme about to shift its
base to Bath for the build-up to the 2012 Olympics.

And athletes based at the university are already preparing for the 2010
Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in two years' time
and, beyond that, the Games in London in four years' time.

Announcing Ashton's appointment, University of Bath director of sports
development and recreation Ged Roddy said: "This is a significant coup for us.

'There are clear parallels between what Sir Clive Woodward is doing at Great
Britain level ahead of the 2012 Games and what Brian will be doing here at the
University of Bath.

'Both are engaged in applying their expertise to make sure Britain develops
young sports men and women who will be given the best chance they can possibly
have of competing for medals in London.'

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now