Rugby World Cup 2019: Chris Ashton pulls out of England squad due to ‘family reasons’

Ashton’s hopes of going to Japan 2019 appear to be over after he could not commit to England’s training camp schedule while he and wife Melissa are expecting their second child

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Chris Ashton has withdrawn from England’s Rugby World Cup training squad to be with his pregnant wife, throwing his place in Eddie Jones’ squad into major doubt.

The Sale Sharks wing, 32, was named in Jones’ 29-man preliminary squad earlier in the week having not been a part of the Premiership semi-finals, with players joining up at their Bagshot training base on Sunday for the first five-day camp.

But the RFU announced that Ashton has informed them that he will not be able to take up his place in the squad due to his wife Melissa’s pregnancy, having taken the decision that he cannot be away for long periods of time while they are expecting their second child.

Furthermore, Ashton thanked Jones for giving him an England recall earlier in the season after appearing to end his England career in 2016 that preceded his move to Toulon – a statement that combined with his inability to commit to the squad’s preparations likely to rule him out of selection as Jones wants the full three-month period to work with his players.

“When I returned from Toulon last season it was for two reasons; firstly for my family and secondly to try and realise the dream of playing for England again,” Ashton said in an RFU statement.

“Pulling on the white shirt is always special and I’m grateful to Eddie for giving me the opportunity to have done so again.

“My wife, Melissa, is pregnant with our second child and I don’t feel it is right for me to commit to being away in camp at this stage.

“In the meantime I wish Owen and the boys all the very best with their preparation over the coming months.”

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