RFU takes on Wells and Ford as talks continue over Ashton

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The Independent Online

The Rugby Football Union last night appointed John Wells and Mike Ford to the England coaching team, leaving just one full-time place to be filled.

The RFU said that the final post would be filled before England's tour of Australia. The Bath coach, Brian Ashton, has been identified by Twickenham as being the man they want, but the RFU is locked in contractual discussions with the West Country club.

Ford, 40, joins the national set-up from Saracens where he was head coach. He will be England's defence coach. The former Leicester flanker and coach Wells, 43, will be responsible for the forwards, with Ashton taking up the reins as attacking coach.

Llanelli yesterday appointed the former Leeds coach Phil Davies, 42, as director of rugby in succession to Gareth Jenkins.

Jenkins, now the Wales head coach, is to revolutionise the Wales calls for line-outs, scrums and backs' moves in order to confuse the opposition, in particular New Zealand and Australia. With former Wales coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen in charge of the All Blacks, and Scott Johnson having just joined the Wallaby coaching team, Jenkins fears the southern hemisphere sides will have an advantage.

So Jenkins is insisting that all on-field commands be given in Welsh. "We are introducing the Welsh language. If we'd stuck with the old system, we would have been vulnerable to attack," Jenkins said.

The Wasps and former France hooker Raphael Ibañez is to captain the Barbarians against England at Twickenham on Sunday. He will lead out a team studded with big names, including the All Blacks Justin Marshall and Carlos Spencer as well as England's Lawrence Dallaglio, the Australian flanker Owen Finegan and the French full-back Thomas Castaignède.

The Premiership finalists Sale expect their captain, Jason White, who has a bruised shin, to be fit for the Twickenham showdown with Leicester on Saturday.

The Scotland A prop Nick Lloyd has signed a one-year contract extension with Saracens, while the former Ireland wing Justin Bishop has committed himself to a further season with London Irish.