|Full name||Christopher John Ashton|
|Date of birth||29 March 1987|
|Place of birth||Wigan, Greater Manchester, England|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Weight||92 kg (14 st 7 lb; 203 lb)|
|Notable relative(s)||Kevin Ashton|
|Children||Ava Grace Ashton|
|Rugby league career|
|Rugby union career|
Chris Ashton (born 29 March 1987 in Wigan, Greater Manchester ) is an English rugby union player who has represented England in both Rugby League and Rugby Union. Ashton is a dual-code international who plays wing for Saracens in the Aviva Premiership and formerly played as a fullback or on the wing for Wigan Warriors in Rugby League's Super League competition.
Rugby league career
Ashton's position at Wigan Warriors was full-back. He also operated on the wing. Ashton came through Wigan's scholarship programme and played in Wigan U18s in 2003. He made his senior debut in Wigan's last match of the 2005 season. He scored two of their seven tries in a 36–22 victory over Huddersfield. After impressing in the academy, where he scored 27 tries in 23 games, he made his Super League debut against Hull F.C. in June 2005, at the age of 18.
Ashton was brought into the Wigan squad at the start of 2006 as replacement for the injured Kris Radlinski. He had impressed on his debut in 2005, but in 2006 he showed good skill, pace and talent and impressed many Wigan fans and people within Rugby League. Ashton was one of the most consistent players for Wigan during 2006's disappointing Super League XI season and was a contender for the Young Player of the Year award. He finished the 2006 season with 15 tries from 29 appearances making him the leading try scorer for Wigan.
Ashton was given the number 1 shirt at the start of 2007 despite the arrival of former Bradford Bulls full back Michael Withers. Previously the number 1 shirt was worn by Radlinski and had been for 12 years and many people believed that Ashton had the talent to be a good replacement for Radlinski.
He made 52 appearances for the Cherry and Whites, scoring 30 tries.
Ashton was selected for the 2004 Academy Origin Series and the 2004 victorious England Academy U-18s tour to Australia.
Although some criticisms were made about his defensive abilities, he earned a call into the England squad at the end of 2006 whilst Great Britain were on tour in Australia and New Zealand. Ashton made his England debut against France on 22 October 2006 in the Federation Shield tournament. He played in all four Federation Shield matches, which concluded with England winning the competition, and he scored three tries in his four games.
Rugby union career
On 19 March 2007 it was announced that Ashton had signed to play rugby union for Northampton Saints. Wigan granted Ashton an early release from his contract, freeing him to complete his cross-code move.
On 1 September 2007, he made his debut for Northampton at Franklin's Gardens as a late substitute for Will Harries against London Welsh in National Division One. He scored his first try for the club, with his first touch of the ball, in the same game which Saints won 44–11.
Despite a relatively disappointing 2008–09 season, with many appearances in the Wanderers and struggling to make it into the first team as a regular fixture, in the 2009–10 season Ashton embarked on a run of form that brought 15 tries in 16 games in all competitions including Heineken Cup efforts against Munster and Perpignan.
He was named as the Premiership player of the season for 2009–10.
On 19 January 2012, it was announced that Ashton had signed with Saracens, and joined up with his new team for the start of the 2012–13 season.
For the 2012–13 season Ashton moved to Saracens from Northampton Saints. His contract was rumoured to be worth £250,000 per season. On 1 September 2012, Ashton made his Saracens debut against London Irish. He scored two tries on his debut, in a game which Saracens won 40–3.
Saracens finished the 2012–13 regular season at the top of the points table, 3 points ahead of Leicester Tigers. However, in the play-offs they lost their semi-final match against Northampton Saints, Ashton's former club, by a margin of 13 points to 27. Ashton scored a total of 6 tries that season.
In the 2013–14 Premiership season, Saracens again finished the regular season as points table leaders, 9 points clear of Northampton. They then won their semi-final play-off against Harlequins, including a try from Ashton in the 61st minute, however in a hard-fought final at Twickenham they again lost to Northampton, by 20 points to 24. Ashton finished the season joint-4th in the try scoring table, with a total of 8 tries.
In the 2014–15 Premiership season, Saracens qualified for the play-offs in the 4th and final place on the points table, with the same number of points as Exeter Chiefs (68), but taking the 4th spot on account of losing one less game than Exeter during the regular season. In the semi-final Saracens again came up against Northampton Saints, with the added disadvantage of playing at the Saints' home ground (Franklin's Gardens). However Saracens produced a strong defensive performance, with fly-half Owen Farrell producing an impressive kicking display, which saw Saracens win 29 points to 24. Ashton was on the replacements bench.
In the final at Twickenham, Saracens played Bath, who had a strong set of backs all of whom were England internationals and were expected to be tough opponents. However, Bath's challenge faltered as Saracens established early control of the game and did not lose the lead, eventually winning by 28 points to 16. Ashton came on as a substitute in the 60th minute and was not able to score any points in the final.
However, Ashton's strong performances throughout the season meant he finished in joint-2nd place on the try scoring tables with 13 tries, the same as fellow Saracens winger Chris Wyles. He was also the top try scorer of all the backs that played during the season, as 1st place was taken by Exeter Chiefs forward Thomas Waldrom. Ashton's impressive form led to him being called back up to the England international training squad ready for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which was held in England throughout September–October, however he was not selected in the final 31-man squad for the tournament.
Ashton received a 10-week ban in 2016 for eye-gouging, the ban was lifted in late March allowing him to take part in the latter part of the 2015-16 season. An appeal against the ban was dismissed.
He made his England début against France on 20 March 2010 in Paris. He played left wing, the opposite side to his usual position with Northampton. He gave the scoring pass to fellow Saints player, fullback Ben Foden, who was also making his first Six Nations start.
He was taken on the summer tour to Australia, and played in both Test matches. Although England lost the first Test, they won the second 20–21. Ashton scored his first international try in this match. On 13 November 2010, England defeated Australia at Twickenham. Ashton was the hero of the match with two tries in a 35–18 victory, the second after a run from inside the home team's 22 metre line.
Ashton scored two tries in England's opening 2011 Six Nations Championship match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on 4 February, with England winning the game 26–19. He followed this with four tries against Italy the following week equalling the all time Six Nations record with six championship tries. This performance also meant he is the first person in the history of the Six Nations to score four tries in a single match. His famous swallow dive celebration was used to celebrate two of these tries.
Ashton represented England at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and finished as the tournament's joint leading try-scorer with six.
He started all five matches for England in the 2012 Six Nations, and in May 2012 scored a hat-trick of tries as England beat the Barbarians 57–26 in the non-cap fixture at Twickenham. Chris went on the 2012 summer tour to South Africa in which he started all three Test matches.
Ashton started all five matches for England in the 2013 Six Nations Championship, scoring a try in the first match against Scotland. England took the championship down to the final game against Wales, however suffered a heavy 30–3 defeat at the Millennium Stadium as the Welsh Dragons took the title. Ashton later played in all three of England's matches in the 2013 autumn internationals, scoring a try in their win over Argentina.
By the end of the 2013 season, Ashton's overall abilities as a player (particularly in defence) were being called into question at the top level and it resulted in him losing his place in the England elite squad, not playing in any of their games in the 2014 Six Nations. He did however play in England's mid-year games against the world champion All Blacks in New Zealand, all three of which England lost, albeit narrowly. Again, Ashton's defensive capabilities were the subject of much discussion during this campaign and it resulted in him not playing for England during the 2014 autumn internationals or 2015 Six Nations.
However, during Saracens' ultimately winning campaign in the 2014–15 premiership season, Ashton consistently performed at a high level and this promising form resulted in Stuart Lancaster recalling him back into the England camp, including him in his 50-man training squad for that year's world cup, alongside fellow Saracens winger David Strettle, who had not played for England since 2008. Ashton was the subject of much media focus during England's world cup training programme as Lancaster looked to make a decision on whether to select a less-experienced backline, or include Ashton who now had 39 caps for his country. As it transpired, Ashton was dropped from the world cup squad some 6 weeks before the tournament commenced, having not impressed enough during training to secure his place in the final team.
Following England's disappointing campaign at their own world cup, failing to make it out of the pool stages as they lost to both Wales and Australia, Stuart Lancaster stepped down as England head coach and was replaced by Eddie Jones, who had coached the Japan team to some impressive results during the 2015 world cup tournament, including an unexpected win against southern hemisphere giants South Africa.
Jones began making some immediate changes to the England elite squad, including dropping several long-standing players and adding a number of new or returning players to the line-up. This included Chris Ashton, who was named in the squad for the upcoming 2016 Six Nations Championship. However, Ashton was subsequently given a 10-week ban by the RFU after being cited for eye-gouging Luke Marshall during an ERCC match between Saracens and Ulster. Although Ashton appealed the ban, this was rejected and he therefore missed the entire 2016 Six Nations tournament and several Premiership/ERCC games for Saracens.
A subsequent 13 week ban for biting has also ruled Ashton ineligible for selection for England's Old Mutual Wealth Series in 2016. Although Eddie Jones had already all but put an end to his England rugby career, Ashton's decision in October 2016 to join Toulon for the 2017/2018 season could end any hopes of an England recall.
NH= Tournament not held
|Team||Year||Six Nations||Other||World Cup||Total|
|England rugby league||2006||NA||NA||4+0||3||NA||NA||4+0||3|
|England rugby union||2008||0||0||0||0||NH||NH||0||0|
DQ= Club did not qualify
NA= Club was not eligible for tournament
|Club||Season||League||Challenge Cup||Heineken Cup|
|Wigan Warriors||2005 Super League X||2||1||0||0||NA||NA|
|2006 Super League XI||26||13||2||1||NA||NA|
|2007 Super League XII||19||10||3||2||NA||NA|
|Northampton Saints||National Division One 2007-08||25||39||NA||NA||DQ||DQ|
|1||Australia||Sydney, Australia||ANZ Stadium||Test Match||19 June 2010||Win|
|2||Australia||London, England||Twickenham||Test Match||13 November 2010||Win|
|4||Wales||Cardiff, Wales||Millennium Stadium||2011 Six Nations||4 February 2011||Win|
|6||Italy||London, England||Twickenham||2011 Six Nations||12 February 2011||Win|
|10||Georgia||Dunedin, New Zealand||Otago Stadium||2011 Rugby World Cup||18 September 2011||Win|
|12||Romania||Dunedin, New Zealand||Otago Stadium||2011 Rugby World Cup||24 September 2011||Win|
|15||Scotland||Auckland, New Zealand||Eden Park||2011 Rugby World Cup||1 October 2011||Win|
|16||New Zealand||London, England||Twickenham||2012 Autumn Test||1 December 2012||Win|
|17||Scotland||London, England||Twickenham||2013 Six Nations||2 February 2013||Win|
|18||Argentina||London, England||Twickenham||2013 QBE Autumn Tests||9 November 2013||Win|
|19||New Zealand||Dunedin, New Zealand||Forsyth Barr Stadium||2014 England rugby union tour of New Zealand||14 June 2014||Loss|
Ashton's support play, which he learnt during his days as a Rugby League player, has been praised and is often cited as the main reason that he is such a prolific try scorer. Another of Ashton's key attributes is his speed, which he demonstrated by scoring a 90-metre try against Australia in the autumn of 2010, during this try he outran Drew Mitchell and James O'Connor, two of Australia's fastest wingers. When Ashton scores, he often performs a "swallow dive". He has been praised and rebuked in equal measure for it, with many people watching to see if it will one day lead to him dropping the ball in the act of scoring.
- Chris Ashton, Rugby Football Union, archived from the original on 10 August 2011, retrieved 24 February 2011
- "Huddersfield 22 Wigan 36". Manchester Evening News. 18 September 2005. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- "Chris Ashton England Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl.co.uk. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- "England Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- "Ashton handed early Wigan release". BBC Sport. 20 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- "Six-try Saints secure full points". Northampton Saints. 1 September 2007. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 1 September 2007.
- "Budgen scores on comeback at Castle Park". Northampton Saints. 10 September 2007. Archived from the original on 22 September 2007. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
- "10-try Saints put Moseley to the sword". Northampton Saints. 15 September 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
- "Chris Ashton profile". Northampton Saints. 24 April 2008. Archived from the original on 27 March 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2008.
- "Chris Ashton named Premiership player of season". BBC Sport. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010.
- "Chris Ashton to join Saracens from Northampton Saints". BBC Sport. 19 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
- "Chris Ashton to join Saracens from Northampton Saints". Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- "Toulon to sign Saracens and England utility back Chris Ashton". The Guardian. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
- "England drop Jonny Wilkinson for Toby Flood". BBC Sport. 17 March 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- Cleary, Mick (11 June 2010). "Australia v England: Martin Johnson's side have a chance to silence the doubters". Telegraph.
- "Australia 27–17 England". BBC Sport. 12 June 2010.
- "Australia 20–21 England". BBC Sport. 19 June 2010.
- Chris Ashton stars as England overwhelm Australia in dazzling style also try off the year 2010 The Observer, 13 November 2010
- Wales 19–26 England BBC Sport, 4 February 2011
- England 59–13 Italy BBC Sport, 12 February 2011
- "Rugby World Cup 2015: Chris Ashton among those dropped in latest England squad cull by Stuart Lancaster". Independent. 7 August 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
- "Eddie Jones named new England coach and says 'If you want to play for England you must play in Premiership'". The Telegraph. 20 November 2015. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
- "Japan beat South Africa in greatest Rugby World Cup shock ever". The Guardian. 19 September 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
- "Chris Ashton ban is spectacularly harsh and massive shame for England". The Telegraph. 21 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
- "Chris Ashton has appeal against 10-week eye-gouging ban rejected, ruling Saracens and England wing out of the Six Nations". Daily Mail Online. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
- "Chris Ashton hopes for England return despite 13-week ban for biting". The Guardian. 27 September 2016.
- "Chris Ashton: Saracens and England winger to join Toulon". BBC Sport. 25 October 2016.
- Mike Catt: Chris Ashton indicative of the confidence flowing through this young England side The Telegraph, 12 February 2011
- Chris Ashton's brilliant try against the Wallabies at Twickenham RugbyDump.com, 18 November 2010
- England wing Chris Ashton defends his try celebrations BBC Sport, 17 February 2011