Rugby Union: Ashton tipped to accept top Irish post

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Bath are today expected to announce that they are to part company with their coach, Brian Ashton, after a six-year association, writes David Llewellyn. That would leave the way open for Ashton, the 55-year-old former history teacher, to take up a possible post as director of rugby with the Irish Rugby Union.

Ashton, who joined Bath in 1990 and turned professional in the summer, was believed to have been in Dublin over the weekend for talks on the possibility of becoming the IRFU's inaugural director of rugby, a similar post to the one Terry Cobner holds with the Welsh Rugby Union. The IRFU are known to be unhappy with the present set-up and the present coach, Murray Kidd, faces the axe after Ireland's humiliating home defeat against Italy on Saturday.

Ashton helped guide Bath to three of their four Pilkington Cup and Courage League doubles - in 1992, 1994 and 1996 - but recently took paid leave of absence. Ashton had been unhappy for some time with his role in team affairs, and is believed to have little say in team selection. If he does leave the club, it is likely that the former England flanker Andy Robinson would take over as caretaker coach.