Sometimes it takes for a player to go away and come back for his abilities to be truly appreciated.
Chris Ashton is one of those players.
Ashton left England in 2017 as something approaching the enfant terrible of English Rugby. While many would grudgingly admit his abilities, for others there will also be an asterisk beside his name.
Be it his tryscoring histrionics or the odd moment of on-field ill-discipline, many just can’t get beyond their perception of ‘Chris Ashton the man’. Ironically, anyone who has ever met him in person will tell you the exact opposite – that he’s as nice a bloke as you’ll meet.
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Yet, there’s one point of order that will always be thrown at his critics: he scores tries by the container load. A look at his try-scoring rate across competitions bears out a remarkable ability to score tries.
European Strike Rate – 63%
The 31-year-old wing has scored 39 tries in 62 European Cup matches. What’s more, he made all but six of his European appearances in the elite competition, with those six games coming in his first season of European rugby, for Northampton Saints, when he scored seven tries in the Challenge Cup.
Premiership Strike Rate – 61%
The Wigan-born wing scored 80 in 131 matches between stints at Northampton Saints and Saracens. Only Christian Wade can boast a better try rate in the Premiership than Ashton – and only three players have scored more tries than him, namely Wade, Cueto and Varndell respectively. Expect him to add to this tally.
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) July 4, 2018
International Strike Rate – 55%
In 39 appearances for England and one for the Barbarians, he has scored 22 tries. Realistically you’d have to look at All Black wings to find this tryscoring rate, a comparison which might not stand-up given the high scoring nature of the Rugby Championship.
Top 14 Strike Rate – 104%
The now 31-year-old crossed the whitewash 24 times in 23 matches in the Top 14, beating the Napolioni Nalaga held record by three tries. A lot of those were owing to support lines run off Tuisova and Radradra, but as the saying goes ‘they all count’.
It’s a record that is unlikely to ever be beaten.
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