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Ex-England coach takes a swipe at 'contact skills' coach adverts

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images)

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Ex-England boss Brian Ashton has had a pop at the number of recruitment adverts for contact skills coaches in rugby, grumbling that he never sees any job vacancies for attacking space coaches. The 75-year-old, who led his country as head coach to the 2007 World Cup final having previously worked under Clive Woodward as well as with Ireland and Bath, is widely regarded as one of the most visionary coaches in the global game.


His comments about rugby job adverts came in a post that Ashton published on his Linkedin feed. He wrote: “Fascinated to see adverts etc for contact skills coaches in Rugby Union. Never see any for attacking space coaches…….!!!”

Liked by Kevin Maggs and Nick de Luca, the respective ex-Ireland and Scotland internationals, the post by ex-England coach Ashton received feedback from Grant Doorey, the well-travelled coach who has worked with Tonga, the International Rugby Academy of New Zealand, Toulon, London Irish, Blues, Japan, Bourgoin and Italy.

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“Interesting insight Brian Ashton,” he replied. “It is weird we see contact skills operating independently of attack or defence coaches. They need to be blended and centred around the overall philosophy. Imagine if we were actively developing the capability to create, attack and manipulate space as part of an attacking mentality with triple threat options.

“It seems logical but we get siloed in our approach and measure parts of the game that enhance a ‘what’s in it for me’ coaching approach where we have a narrow focus on just our piece of the puzzle.”

Ashton’s previous post on Linkedin also generated many comments. Last month he wrote: “Great discussion today with an international player. Centred around the question: How many coaches improve by actively listening to their players?”


Ex-England full-back Mike Brown, who made his 2007 Test debut under Ashton, was among the many to reply, writing: “Not many in my experience…” Legendary Wallabies World Cup winner David Campese added: “Brian, I think nil.”


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