Ashton to take charge of England 'A'

The RFU's Club England committee today ratified the selection of National Academy coaches and managers to take charge of England representative squads for 2005-06.

Brian Ashton, who manages both the Junior and Senior National Academies, will coach England A this season and will be assisted by John Wells, who joined the RFU as a National Academy coach in the summer from Leicester Tigers. Tosh Askew moves from the England Under 19s to skills coach for the A squad.

Commenting on the As and his leadership role Ashton said, "England A is the last rung on the playing ladder before they make the all important step up to the senior team and so you could say it's crunch time for these players' in their rugby careers. It will be my responsibility, along with John Wells and Tosh Askew, to help them show what they can do on the pitch and so demand a place next season in the senior team. I'm looking forward to this tremendously as the hunger these players demonstrate to succeed is infectious."

Jim Mallinder remains in charge of the England Under 21 squad, again with Pete Drewett as team manager, but this time with National Academy coach Dorian West. The former World Champion hooker joins Mallinder as assistant coach for the U21 Six Nations and IRB World Championships next June. Said Mallinder, "I'm excited about forming a new partnership with Dorian. Most of last year's U21s will still be available this season and from his work with the U19s Dorian's familiar with the younger players coming through, which will be very useful.

"Last year we made definite improvements in terms of the U21 players' technical skills and game understanding and as a coaching team we'll be trying to do the same again. Our number one objective is to work with the clubs to develop successful professional rugby players we hope will ultimately play for England."

Nigel Redman, haing worked with Jim Mallinder and the Under 21 squad for the past two seasons, now takes charge of developing the England Under 19s, who play a full Six Nations fixture calendar en route to the IRB Under 19 World Championship in Dubai in April.

Damian McGrath, part of last season's England 7s and Churchill Cup coaching teams, will now join Redman and team manager John Elliott with the U19s. Redman commented, "I've had a great couple of years with Jim Mallinder and Jon Callard and really enjoyed working with the U21s but this is a fantastic opportunity to take a younger group forward now. By approaching each age group as a stage within the players' development, we can look at the game a little differently, challenging the players whilst at the same time concentrating on key themes that will benefit their development."

Mike Friday remains at the helm of the England Sevens and former England fly half Jon Callard, who joined the RFU National Academy coaching team in July from his coaching position with Leeds Tykes, has been appointed kicking coach across the entire breadth of the England representative sides.

Kevin Bowring, Head of Elite Coach Development commented, "These experienced coaches have the opportunity to work effectively not only as development coaches with the National Academy players in the first part of the season but also with the As, Sevens, U21s and U19s as the season progresses."

The selection of coaches for the representative sides all comes under the leadership of the RFU's Performance Director Chris Spice. He added, "It's very pleasing to be able to call upon such high quality coaches from England Rugby's National Academy system to coach these England representative teams."

England 'A'
Coach Brian Ashton
Assistant Coach John Wells
Skills Coach Tosh Askew

England U21
Coach Jim Mallinder
Assistant Coach Dorian West
Team Manager Peter Drewett
England U19
Coach Nigel Redman
Assistant Coach Damian McGrath
Team Manager John Elliott

England Sevens
Coach Mike Friday
Team Manager Terry Sands

Jon Callard Kicking Coach - across all.