England coach Ashton keeps his job

LONDON, England – Brian Ashton was reappointed as England head coach on Wednesday by the Rugby Football Union.

The RFU’s management board approved the recommendation from elite rugby director Rob Andrew for 61-year-old Ashton to continue in the post.

Ashton led England to a surprising run at the World Cup in October, upsetting Australia and France before losing to South Africa in the final.

However, veteran players Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt criticized Ashton’s methods in books that were published shortly after the World Cup.

And former South Africa coach Jake White had been in talks with the RFU about the job.

But the RFU approved a new 12-month rolling contract contract for Ashton after the review process — with the same terms for assistant coaches John Wells and Mike Ford.

Andrew said: “I’m delighted that Brian and his coaching team will remain with England and, like them, I’m looking forward to what will be a challenging international year in 2008.”

Andrew conducted a thorough post-World Cup review and consulted England’s World Cup players, the management staff and Premiership coaches before delivering his final report to the management board at Twickenham today.

He added: “It’s been a thorough review and a process that everyone from the coaches to the players and the management all supported.”