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England seek out overthrown head coach to spark attack

By PA
(Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

England have been tapping into the knowledge of veteran attack guru Brian Ashton to achieve their aim of filling Twickenham.

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The Red Roses ran in 14 tries in an 88-10 victory over Ireland that places them on the brink of claiming a sixth consecutive Guinness Women’s Six Nations title when they face France on Saturday.

A thrilling attacking performance before a 48,778 crowd was born out of the belief that in order to play in front of a full house of Twickenham at next year’s home World Cup, they must play appealing rugby.

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And helping them achieve that aim is Ashton, a former England men’s head coach regarded as a visionary in the game whose expertise has been enlisted by Red Roses boss John Mitchell.

“Brian makes us ask questions. ‘If this is the picture, what is the easiest way that you can take the wins?’” said Dow, who ran in a hat-trick against Ireland.

“I do think it is about asking those questions and having Brian Ashton available throughout the week…I absolutely adore the man.

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“The way he phrases things almost makes you re-think the philosophy of rugby. I think in the English brand the philosophy is ‘let’s kick to the corner, let’s take the territory’. But is that the philosophy of all rugby? Can we expand that?

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“At the end of the day, professional rugby is a business in its own way. We need to be proving to the whole of England that we can play an exciting brand of rugby.”

While England march on by overwhelming the opposition in front of them, Ireland’s blowout highlights the gulf in class in the women’s game and affects the credibility of the Six Nations.

The Red Roses have accumulated 228 points after four rounds and France are the only European team capable of taking the wind out of their sails when the rivals clash in Bordeaux.

“I 100 per cent think teams will catch up and as much as we may be on top now, it is on us to try and work to keep that place and demand more from ourselves,” Dow said.

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“Because as much as we’d love the game to grow, we want to keep the gap ourselves and continue to prove that we can be the best.”

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D
Diarmid 10 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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