Saturday, March 08, 2008

Rugby: Time for Ashton to go?

Having struggled to keep even mild interest in this afternoon’s game between England and Scotland at a wet and windy Murrayfield, I'm writing this with a heavy heart and a potentially heavier hangover on it's way.

The current England manager Brian Ashton, with hindsight, could be considered lucky that during the last World Cup a combination of graft, experience and good old fashioned scrummaging got his team to the final and masked the flaws that were apparent in our play. Since then, misfiring performances against Wales and Italy, punctuated by pick pocket job in Paris on the French, have shown the squad to be thin on ideas, desire and panache. So what would I do to arrest this?

1. Force Ashton out
When one ex pro with a book to sell criticises his style one can choose to ignore it, but when it’s 3 or 4 World cup winners lining up perhaps there is something there? Having failed to win the 6 Nations (we should aim for nothing less given our wealth of resources) he should go at the end of this season and before the summer and winter tours kick in.

2. Bring in Shaun Edwards
Install Shaun Edwards after he has won the Grand Slam with Wales. Respected as a coach and as innovator at club and international level he has the experince now to go along with his passion and regularly clamours for the expansive game that is needed to win the 6 Nations and World Cup.

3. Make a bold decision about Johnny
Is he worth his position in the team on points alone? As record points scorer the stats tell you yes and in his defence the guy has rarely let his country down. But, and it’s a but with both eyes on the future, having witnessed his aimless display of kicking down the throats of the Scottish today you have to wonder whether he is truly capable of unpicking holes in the very best teams in the world. On present form you’d have to say no and for that reason perhaps we should look to blood in someone new.

For England's chariot to get back on track this feels like drastic but necessary steps.

1 comment:

Adrian said...

I've said after the first game I'll be shocked if Ashton lasts beyond the 6 nations.

He's had three shots (pre world cup, world cup and 6 nations) and not set the world afire with any of them.

Sure the world cup looked good, but really if you lay a critical eye on this, how much of this was fighting spirit and a bit of luck than really good coaching.

I'll lay a wager that Jack White (the South African world cup winning coach) will be coaching England by the end of the year, if not sooner.