Rugby's golden boy gets dressed up in Topman and reveals all about the England squad's locker room antics

Words By Carl Anka

Photography By Samuel Bradley

Styling By Laura Harvey

Fresh off of one of the busiest years of his career, and hot off the heels of scoring a spectacular goal last night, not to mention scoring in one of England rugby’s greatest ever performances against New Zealand, Topman Generation was lucky enough to style and shoot England & Saracens flying winger Chris Ashton. After the shoot we sat down with Ashton to talk about his famous Ash Splash try celebration, which England rugby player would make a good boxer and pranks on tour.

Topman Generation: Chris Robshaw (England Captain) called the amazing win over New Zealand the best day of his life. How does it rank for you?
Chris:
It’s definitely in the top five. The Australia game from 2010 is up there but I think this one shades. New Zealand hadn’t lost in a year and we were the only team to get the better of them. I sure they were a bit tired because it’s been a long year and they do a lot of travelling but still, it was a great win and good to do it with that group of lads. We don’t have much experience so to get wins like that stay with you and can only be good for you going forward.

Topman Generation: You scored in an amazing eight-minute flurry of tries against the All Blacks but I must say time slowed down a little bit when you went for the “Ash Splash”. (Ashton often swan dives when he goes over for a try) I’m sure you’ve been asked plenty of times but when did you first do it?
Chris: The first time I did was by accident against Wales in the 6 Nations in 2010. I didn’t realize what I was doing; I was just diving over the line and sort of spread out. I scored the first try of the 6 Nations in my first international tournament and I was just happy it happened.  Scoring tries is a great feeling and when you’re about to score tries it’s a little explosion. The same thing for the New Zealand game – I had a little dry spell in scoring in International Tests and I did think about what I’ d next time I scored. In the end, scoring was such a release for me it just happened

Topman Generation: A lot of sports people are superstitious. Do you have a lucky pair of pants or some other pre-match ritual?
Chris: My superstition is not having a superstition! I try to mix things up and do things differently but I think that technically is a superstition.

 
We went to Australia and I was sick all over the bus after too many shandies, some doors had been broken in the hotel and all kinds of madness occurred.

Topman Generation: Now you've been on tour a fair few times. When was the first time you had to apologise or give a coach driver some money for wrecking the place?
Chris Ashton:
It was probably under 18s at rugby league. We went to Australia and I was sick all over the bus after too many shandies, some doors had been broken in the hotel and all kinds of madness occurred.

Topman Generation: And have you pulled any pranks while on tour?
Chris Ashton: Recently we strapped one of the physio’s bikes to the ceiling. He used to come to work everyday on his bicycle so one day we taped it to the ceiling, it took him hours to get him down! We wasted a lot of physio tape on that one but it was worth it! We’ve had one of my mate’s eyebrows off before; his mum and dad weren't too happy with us after that one. They tried with me once but I woke up straight away.

Topman Generation: You took a hefty punch from Manu Tuilagi last year and impressively stayed on your feet. You’ve got a strong chin, ever considered boxing?
Chris Ashton:
I do a bit of boxing on the pads at the club but that doesn't include taking punches. I’m a fan of boxing; I’m not a fan of getting punched in the face. Manu got me more in the eye, which is lucky. I think if it had caught me on the chin I’d have been on hospital for a few weeks! Manu is a top bloke though, I get on with him quite well, that punch was just one of those heat of the moment things.

Topman Generation: Who else on the England team do you think would make a good boxer?
Chris Ashton:
James Haskell does a lot of training outside of rugby. He’s really into his boxing and cage fighting and all that stuff. He’s a big lad and all.

Topman Generation: You’ve been playing rugby your entire life. Was it hard for you watching your friends having fun while you had to train?
Chris Ashton:
Not at all, my team mates became my best mates so everything I did, I did it with them. That’s the great thing about rugby, I’ve got friends that I played rugby with when I was nine years old and I still talk to them every day, even though we might have taken different paths in life.

Topman Generation: Now you’re a flying winger on the pitch, does the same apply off it? How are your wingman skills for your mates?
Chris Ashton: Sometimes I can be bad and ruin it for my mates. The other night I blocked Courtney Lawes, in the nicest possible way of course. He wasn’t too happy about it.

Topman Generation: Let’s talk about fashion for a bit. How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Chris Ashton: I bet a few of the lads from back home in Wigan would say I’m chavvy but I’d probably say I’m a mixture of everything. Is that a cop out? I do try and follow trends a bit.

David Beckham was a favorite of mine growing up, he’s always stood out as a male fashion icon. He’s been leading the way with how he dresses for quite some time 

Topman Generation: Who were your style heroes growing up?
Chris Ashton: 
David Beckham was a favorite of mine growing up, he’s always stood out as a male fashion icon. He’s been leading the way with how he dresses for quite some time.

Topman Generation: Your Twitter bio reads 'Full Time Good Lad'. When was the last time you took a day off being a 'good lad' and did something cheeky?
Chris Ashton: I snuck Danny Care into the cinema recently, that was good. It was pretty easy; you could probably get him into a football match. Just slide him under a turnstile and no one will know.


Topman Generation: Let’s talk about things the world doesn’t know about Chris Ashton. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Chris Ashton: For some strange reason I find myself watching Hollyoaks more than one person possibly could do. I don’t know what it is, I just always find myself at home at 6:30 watching Hollyoaks, and everyone I speak to doesn’t like it. If they need any extras on cast I’m available.

Topman Generation: You’re from Wigan, but went to Northampton, and now live in London. Is there anything about life down south that you find baffling?
Chris Ashton: The amount of people on Oxford Circus at the moment is ridiculous! And I don’t get the amount of cyclists in London – it just seems so dangerous to me. I tried a bit of cycling in the summer and that was enough for me, I was close of death!