England coach criticised over Cup

Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has criticised Brian Ashton, saying he did not have the managerial skills to be head coach at the World Cup.

“I hope I’m not going to lose a friendship over what I say about Brian, a good coach who I believe was in the wrong role,” Dallaglio says in his autobiography, serialised in the Sunday Times newspaper and due to be published next month.

“Head coach of the England team demands managerial skills that, in my honest appraisal, Brian doesn’t have.

“He could have brought someone in to make sure it got done or he could have taken it on himself. He did neither and the whole squad found itself in a kind of limbo.”

Dallaglio said the issue came to a head for the World Cup runners-up in a crisis meeting held after England’s 36-0 drubbing by eventual winners South Africa in the group stages.

“The loss brought the team to crisis point,” said Dallaglio. “There has been a lot of talk about the meeting we had the next day and it was a brutal, no-holds-barred ‘what is happening?’ meeting.

“Every player put up his hand and said what he was thinking.
They didn’t know what was being asked of them but at last the confusion was out in the open.”

Dallaglio said the mood of the players was summed up by squad member Olly Barkley, who had previously worked with Ashton during his time as coach of club side Bath.

According to Dallaglio, Barkley told Ashton: “Look Brian, no one’s got a clue how we’re supposed to be playing here.

“If you ask the 15 guys who played against South Africa to write down the game plan, you would get 15 different answers.”

Dallaglio said Barkley’s assessment was an accurate reflection of the thinking among the squad.

“It was harsh but true,” said Dallaglio.—Reuters

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