Ashton gets swallow dive OK

Lancaster won’t stop wing performing trademark celebration

ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster insists his determination to instil discipline in the squad will not extend to banning wing Chris Ashton from performing his trademark swallow dive.

Former Saxons boss Lancaster, whose first match in charge is next week’s Six Nations opener against Scotland, has drilled his new charges in the importance of showing respect to the opposition.

Yet he has given Northampton star Ashton (inset) the green light to continue performing a move that has been depicted as showboating, so long as he considers the situation appropriate. “I had a long conversation with Chris Ashton and he is desperate to play well for England,” said Lancaster.

“We talked about behaviour and right place, right time. I’m not going to ban swallow dives, if that’s what you are asking.

“I think he and I had a really good conversation about what he wants to get out of being an England player, and I gave him a pretty frank assessment of what I thought England players should do.

“That didn’t involve ‘do or don’t do this’. It’s not about the swallow dive. It’s about everyone’s collective behaviour that’s important.”

While Lancaster did not explicitly outlaw the swallow dive, however, he did lace his words with a warning that players who indulge in behaviour he sees as selfish or damaging to the team will be dropped.

“You’ve got people who give energy to a team and people who take energy out of a team,” added Lancaster, who has been placed in charge until at least the end of the championship.

“An issue starts when people take energy out of a team through ego or irresponsible behaviour. If I think anything falls sits in that bracket, and it’s all contextual – there’s plenty of people who want to play for England, and that’s the coach’s prerogative in terms of selecting the side.”