Subscribe now for Free Next Day Delivery - 05:54:27::*

Inside the 22

Chris Ashton, Wales and German Rugby

Ashton Signs for Sale

Chris Ashton announced last week that he will be playing for Sale Sharks next season in an attempt to muscle his way back into the England setup before next years World Cup.

Ashton was the top try scorer in the Top 14 last season (24 tries) and scored a hat trick for the Barbarians against England a couple of months ago. It is good news for both England and Sale as Ashton brings experience and unmatched ability to find the try line. He might not be the most popular guy in rugby but he proved during his time at Saracens and Toulon that he is world class.
Chris Ashton

Wales go for another Kiwi 

The WRU announced last week that New Zealander Wayne Pivac will be taking over the Head Coach role after Warren Gatland steps down following the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.

The selection is not a a major surprise seeing as Pivac was the man who guided Scarlets to their first major trophy since 2004 and already has some international pedigree with Fiji. Even so, this brings us back to the seeming obsession that Welsh rugby (and maybe all Northern Hemisphere Rugby) has with coaches from New Zealand. Wales have had Kiwi coaches for 17 out of the last 20 years with Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Warren Gatland respectively. But is this a problem?

Lots of the talk is surrounding the effect this ‘brain drain’ has on New Zealand Rugby as coaches move to Europe and also whether there is a lack of coaching talent in Wales. First of all, with the issue of coaches moving north let’s look at the last 2 World Cup wins for New Zealand. Who were the coaches in charge? Graham Henry and Steve Hansen. The experience these coaches got working in Wales certainly helped to build them into World Cup winning coaches. We still see a big difference between the style of rugby in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere so is there any surprise that coaches with experience of both seem to be more successful?

Wales also wanted a coach with Southern and Northern Hemisphere experience. There happens to be very few coaches from the Northern Hemisphere with experience working down South (apart from Ronan O’Gara and a handful of others). Therefore it makes sense to go for a non-Welsh coach. I do not believe that the Welsh Rugby Union only want Kiwi coaches, they want the best possible coach for the job and Pivac in my mind has exactly what they are looking for at this point in time (well, in 14 months time).

German League Cup

Most of you will know that I am the head coach for Munich Rugby Club and yesterday we played in the German League Cup (Liga Pokal) final against TGS Hausen. It was my 4th final since being involved with MRFC (2 as a player and 2 as a coach). Unfortunately the result did not go our way this time (23-3) but it was a high quality game played at impressive speed and intensity despite the hot weather. We might have lost the game but we enjoyed the 4 hour bus journey home, especially due to the fact we had 5 French guys in the squad. Think there were a few headaches this morning!

Over the same weekend Germany hosted Samoa in Heidelberg for a guaranteed spot in the World Cup. Samoa were clearly overwhelming favourites but still Germany were leading the game by 7 points until the 70th minute. In the end Samoa pulled out 3 tries in the last 10 minutes to win the game but the result will send some shockwaves around world rugby and puts Germany in a great position going forward into the final qualifiers. It would be great if Germany could qualify for their first world cup as it is a country with huge potential.
German League Cup