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Rugby World Cup
Ashton: We have gone backwards
ESPNscrum Staff
October 10, 2011

Chris Ashton has admitted England have got worse since the Six Nations insisting the side "wasted" their talent at the World Cup.

England have flown home early after enduring a hugely disappointing month in New Zealand, which culminated in a quarter-final defeat at the hands of France on Saturday.

The squad has come in for criticism from all quarters following a series of misdemeanours off the pitch and a string of listless performances on it. The RFU has stated a "robust" review of England's tournament will now be conducted, with the future of head coach Martin Johnson to be a subject of huge debate.

Throughout their dismal World Cup campaign, England struggled to put together any performances of real note and, although they won all four of their matches in Pool B, their failings were exposed by a determined French outfit in Auckland.

With the fallout from their dire World Cup set to rumble on, England players have been left to reflect on what might have been and winger Ashton says the team have regressed since winning the Six Nations earlier this year.

"We scraped through by the skin of our teeth and were not playing the rugby we played in the Six Nations," Ashton told the Daily Mail. "We played this whole tournament in a different way from the way we played in the Six Nations and I don't really know why we did that. It's annoying to go from that - playing so well, with just one bad game in Ireland - to this.

"The way we played at the start of the Six Nations is the best way for us to maximise the talent we have in the squad, without a doubt. But we didn't do that. We didn't use what we've got and I don't see any point in that at all.

"Take giving the ball to Manu Tuilagi. We do it at Northampton, using James Downey to smash the ball up the middle, but I never struggle for ball. I get it and Ben Foden gets it, but that's just not happened here."

Looking forward, Ashton is hopeful England can learn from their current plight. He said: "If anything good is to come from this, hopefully it will highlight that a few things could be better in the way we play. We have one of the best teams around in terms of talent, but we haven't used it. We've wasted it. That is the really annoying thing.

"It just hasn't clicked and I don't know why. I don't think it's a mental thing. The way I like to play and I hope everyone else likes to play is fast, but it seemed like we were playing slowly all the time. In the Six Nations and even in last year's autumn internationals, we were a different team. We were dangerous, so that potential must be in there somewhere, but we haven't let it out and I don't know why. This team definitely has more to offer, it's just a case of how to get it out."

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