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Brian Ashton leaves Fylde

Former England boss Brian Ashton has stepped down from his role as coaching consultant with National Division One club Fylde.

The Lancashire club say that Ashton has "other options of potential work to consider", in addition to taking on an ambassadorial role with Kukri Sports.

Ashton, 65, led England to the 2007 World Cup final, losing against South Africa in Paris, during a 16-month stint at the helm.

He had previously worked as Sir Clive Woodward's England coaching assistant following a successful spell at Bath, and he also headed up the Rugby Football Union's national academy for three years.

The RFU confirmed on Monday that Mike Catt will join England's new coaching set-up under Stuart Lancaster for the three-Test South Africa tour next month, although at this stage it is a short-term arrangement.

Whether Ashton returns to the England fold at some point remains to be seen, but he would offer Lancaster enormous experience and bring with him a reputation as one of world rugby's most inventive attacking coaches.

"Brian is a world class rugby coach," Fylde head coach Mark Nelson said. "We have been incredibly lucky that he has been able to commit the amount of time, expertise and energy to the club over the past two years.

"There are numerous business commitments and opportunities that are developing for him. Of course, he will be sorely missed, but I fully understand and accept his reasons for stepping down.

"I am hopeful that he will retain an input with the coaching at Fylde and, whatever the future holds, his influence on all those he has coached and worked with remains immense."

During Ashton's time with Fylde, the club were crowned champions of National Two North and finished fourth during their first season in National One. Fylde also scored more tries than any other National League club this season.

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