ENGLAND rugby hero Chris Ashton has paid tribute to the Bury St Edmunds ULR International Sevens tournament after admitting it played a major part in his career.
The 24-year-old Northampton Saints winger was back at The Haberden as a guest of honour on Sunday, two years after starring in the inaugural tournament for the Saints.
Since his display in the 2009 ULR Sevens, Ashton has gone on to become one of the most deadly finishers in world rugby, scoring a record four tries in a single Six Nations match against Italy this year.
“It was a bit of a turning point for me coming to play here because I wasn’t playing for Northampton,” admitted Ashton. “It helped me in learning the game and making that transition into rugby union.”
After switching codes from rugby league to rugby union in 2007, Ashton scored 39 tries in 25 National League One appearances for the Saints.
However, a step up to the Premiership proved to be a tough ask and he struggled.
But since his appearance in the Bury St Edmunds tournament, it has been all uphill for Ashton, who has nailed down a regular England place and already notched up nine tries for his country
But he stressed the ULR International Sevens day should be more than about the players.
“The more kids and people involved in this game the better,” he added. “If I could add to that then I’d come every day.”