Ashley played in the first game of rugby for the Shanghai Hairy Crabs in December 1995.
Hailing from down under, Ashley started his China rugby career in Hong Kong in 1991, arriving in Shanghai in July 1995 from Hong Kong where he had been working for Jardine Engineering a subsidiary of Jardine and Matheson (a company that found initial success as one the big opium traders of the 19th Century). He played in the Hairy Crab’s first game against SUS.
On account of being married in July 1997 he did not have the funds to secure one of the first original debentures but later was the first person to buy one from an existing holder when they left China.
Ashley had a varied and distinguished rugby prior to his arrival in Shanghai. In the late 1980s he played for Eastern Districts Brisbane and represented Australia in the U21 team. He went to Oxford University playing for them in 1989 and 1990 earning a blue. He joined the Harlequins Club in London for a few seasons before moving to Hong Kong in 1991. While there he played for Hong Kong Football Club and earned twenty international caps playing for Hong Kong against teams such as Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, USA, Namibia and Russia.
Two years after arriving in Shanghai he married Anja whose ancestors were prominent German businessmen in Shanghai in the first half of the twentieth century.
Ashley left Jardines at the end of 1999 to do an MBA at London Business School. After completing his MBA in March 2002 he decided to return to Shanghai. As far as the Club was concerned, the timing of Ashley’s return was fortuitous. He was offered the role as full time General Manager of the Club in October 2003.
For the past eleven years Ashley has lived and breathed for the SRFC. He established the first location at Jinqiao on a secured footing and with his team of helpers and advisors guided the club in the difficult period between losing the first Jinqiao location, finding a new location, dealing with the change of plans imposed on the developer and ultimately opening the new Wai Gao Qia location that remains the home of SRFC today.
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Ashley (right) and his wife Anja (left) with Simon and his wife Gillian at the Peace Hotel in January 2013