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19th Feb 2024

Chris Ashton makes remarkable James Lowe comment that proves class is permanent

Patrick McCarry

“It was said for effect.”

Back in 2020, as he was trying to make a name for himself as a pundit, Chris Ashton took an unfair cut off James Lowe. Four years on, his tune has changed completely.

James Lowe had a fine start to his Test career, with Ireland, in late 2020 but was caught out in defence in an away loss to England. After that Ireland loss, Ashton appeared on BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly, and declared,

“Where was James Lowe? He’s dragging a dresser back there. He’s too big. He’s like a tractor, mate, turning. I watched him during the game, he is too big, too heavy, too slow.”

In response, Lowe had said, “Look, Chris is probably trying to step up and make a bit of a name for himself… For someone who has also played international rugby and would have a fair amount of understanding. But, like I said, I didn’t hear it or see the context of how he was saying it. But I wouldn’t mind him in front of me, every now and then. See how we go.”

Ashton was still playing with Harlequins at the time of those comments. He would have a short stint with Worcester Warriors before finishing his playing career with Leicester Tigers. Lowe got his wish of facing off against the England winger during the 2022/23 Champions Cup and ended up on the winning side. Following that win, Ashton made sure to catch up with Lowe, who later told reporters:

“Chris just apologised, obviously. He said he was just caught in the moment and he obviously didn’t mean it. He said that he enjoyed the way I played, he loved how much I’ve grown as a player, and that was it. And I said, ‘Yup, that’s alright.’ But at the end of the day, he made his bed and he has got to sleep in it. But fair play, I understand he may have said some things he may not have meant in the heat of the moment.”

Ashton is now retired and doing more punditry. On a recent episode of Rugby Union Daily, on the BBC, he made another remarkable James Lowe claim but one that much more will agree with.

James Lowe has 13 tries in 28 Test appearances for Ireland. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)

Chris Ashton praise for James Lowe

James Lowe picked up a Man of the Match accolade for his all-action display in the 36-0 win over Italy. The Leinster winger was also voted player of the second round after the Six Nations named him on a four-man shortlist. Bigger challenges await but Lowe was also excellent in the away win over France.

Appearing on Six Nations Rugby Special, wrapping up that second round, Chris Ashton revisited his old Lowe comments and remarked, “I did it for this effect. He’s got a lot to thank me for, actually!” Ashton was not done there:

“Lowe is just a powerful winger with that all-round game. I think with his skills, there is no winger right now in the Six Nations who has that. There’s finishing, the French wingers [Damian] Penaud and [Louis] Bielle-Biarrey will have something to say about that.

“But in terms of what he is doing for Ireland and the effect he has, whether that is exit, defensively or finishing, I don’t think there is anyone better.”

The obvious contenders for that crown would be Damian Penaud of France and Scotland star Duhan van der Merwe, with Mack Hansen not far off. Louis Bielle-Biarrey has started his Test career brightly with France, too.

In a fan vote, carried out by the BBC, James Lowe ended up with 52% of the vote for ‘Best winger in the 2024 Six Nations’. Penaud (24%) and van der Merwe (19%) were next, with three other players combining for the remaining 5% of the vote.


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