England v Barbarians, Twickenham, May 27
Ashton says goodbye to 'splash' celebration
May 27, 2012
England winger insists his 'splash' dive celebration is a thing of the past © Getty Images
England winger Chris Ashton insists his headline-grabbing 'Ash Splash' try celebration is a thing of the past.
On the eve of his latest England outing against the Barbarians at Twickenham, the prolific speedster, who has notched 15 tries in 23 Test appearances, has called time on his trademark and polarising celebration.
"It's done with," Ashton told the Mail on Sunday. "I've knocked it on the head. I see it as the end of an era for me."
The celebration had its last outing in what proved to be his final appearance for Northampton ahead of a much-publicised move to Premiership rivals Saracens. He would later leave the field with a back injury but the 25-year-old insists the two events were not related.
"The back injury had nothing to do with the dive," Ashton told the newspaper. "I'd injured the back during the week and there was always a good chance I wouldn't come through the whole game.
"But it was a good place to pull off my last swallow dive, in my last game for Northampton in front of the home fans after my last try for the club. Some people have enjoyed it over the past few years and some haven't. Some have used it against me, as well. I'm very aware of this. It usually happens after a bit of a run to the line when I have a few seconds to think about doing it.
"It's been a difficult year. A lot of it has been good - I was joint top try scorer at the World Cup - but a lot of it hasn't and I see the end of this season as the time to start a new chapter."
Reflecting on a troubled campaign that saw him handed a suspended fine following an off-the-field incident at the Rugby World Cup, banned for four weeks for pulling Leicester's Alesana Tuilagi's hair and fall out with the Saints during a protracted transfer to Sarries, Ashton admits it could have gone better.
"It's been a difficult season," he said. "It can't always go well for you. Expectations soared after my first season with England and although I wasn't aware of it at the time I now know that I placed a lot of pressure on myself.
"The whole Saracens business should have been handled better by me. For a time I didn't have a happy relationship with Northampton. When I learned I'd been dropped I went flying in to (Northampton director of rugby) Jim Mallinder's office. I should have kept my emotions in check. Jim wasn't happy with the way I acted and I don't blame him. If I could live my life again I'd have handled that differently."
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