Ashton: there has been no approach by RFU
These are startling times for everyone involved in rugby, but few people have been as flabbergasted in recent weeks as Brian Ashton, the former England coach who currently spends his on-field time in Lancashire, working with the National Division One club Fylde.
Ashton woke up yesterday morning to find himself being widely linked with a return to Twickenham in a caretaker role with red-rose team, who are currently in need of leadership after the resignation of Martin Johnson as manager a week ago. It came as something of a shock to the system, to say the least.
"I have no idea where all this started," he said, suitably bemused. "The one thing I do know is that I've had no conversation on the subject with anyone from the Rugby Football Union, received no approach and certainly not been offered anything.
"In fact," he added, "I haven't had any sort of formal discussion with anyone from the governing body for the best part of a year."
Ashton, who led England to a second successive World Cup final in France four years ago, lost his job with the national team in controversial circumstances after the 30-point Six Nations victory over Ireland in 2008 – a development many members of the governing body now bitterly regret.
With Nick Mallett, the South African coach, warm favourite to take up the reins in the spring, the short-term coaching team is likely to feature Stuart Lancaster, who runs the second-string Saxons team, and Graham Rowntree, the one member of the existing senior back-room staff who escaped criticism following the World Cup misfire in New Zealand last month.
Arsenal transfer news: Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani and Gregorz Krychowiak were all linked but Wenger and Gunners fail on deadline day
Arsenal transfer news: Gunners fans devastated as they become only team in top 5 European leagues not to sign outfield player
David De Gea: Manchester United in bitter war of words with Real Madrid over failed transfer
David De Gea, Peter Odemwingie and the 18 weirdest transfer deadline day stories
Anthony Martial fee: 'Add-on' includes Manchester United signing winning the Ballon d'Or
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up