Probyn attacks 'stopgap' move with only the World Cup in mind

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The Independent Online

The former England prop Jeff Probyn was heavily critical yesterday of the appointment of Brian Ashton as the world champions' new head coach, describing it as a "stopgap measure".

Probyn insists Ashton is not suitable for the main job. "It's a bad move because Brian is not a long-term solution," he said. "It's a short term stopgap and that's not what England need.

"They need to put in place a structure that will take them forward for the next 10 years," Probyn added. "The current thinking is obviously let's appoint Brian Ashton, get through the World Cup and then appoint someone else. That's such a negative way to look at it.

"Brian works well alongside others who make decisions. Coaching-wise he's the man to take England forward. But as a head coach, decision-maker and planner of the broader vision to take England forward, he's not the right man."

Probyn also pointed out that Ashton had been made attack coach in May in the restructuring that saw his predecessor Andy Robinson keep his job. "If he was the right man for the job, why wasn't he appointed head coach after the Six Nations review?" Probyn asked. "It's interesting that Brian's biggest supporters, people like Stuart Barnes who have worked with him and know him for years, are saying take away the management side of the job and let Brian coach."

That opinion was backed up by the former England captain Phil de Glanville, who played under Ashton at Bath.

"As a coach he is world class and he is the right guy to be shaping the way England play," De Glanville said. "But the management side of the job is not something that would appeal to him and he'd be the first to admit that's not his strength.

"If he's allowed to get on with the coaching then great. But if he has to get involved in the behind the scenes stuff and politics, then England should really be looking to appoint a manager."