TWICKENHAM, U.K -- On Thursday night, Chris Ashton was dressed up as a hippie as the Barbarians enjoyed a 1970s-themed evening. On Sunday afternoon he scored a 22-minute hat-trick in the black and white of the famous tourists against the team he so long yearned to play for.
It's a funny old thing rugby and how things work out. As England collapsed to their fourth successive defeat, Ashton was left smiling as one of the chief architects in the Barbarians' 63-45 win at Twickenham. It was a multi-layered joy.
On one hand, he has loved this week with the Barbarians enjoying on and off-field frivolity, on the other he had continued his try-scoring exploits at the home of English rugby having left last the Aviva Premiership last summer for France.
He journeyed to the Top 14 frustrated with "leaving my international career in other people's hands", adding he felt the England "door had been shut on me" by Jones and two untimely, harsh, suspensions. He went to France to prove he was still fit to dine it at rugby's top table and responded with a record-breaking 24 tries in the Top 14 for Toulon. Confidence restored.
And under the beating sun at Twickenham, he looked in his element. Spinning off his Toulon teammates Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova, the trio worked beautifully in tandem. Ashton joked he spends much of his time at Toulon following them around the pitch, hoping to profit from a try-scoring pass on their shoulder.
While we saw that twice at Twickenham, Ashton showed his own unique panache for finishing as he chipped Elliot Daly and then beat the fullback to the ball to score his second. He even helped tee up Finn Russell's own effort, but he was doing this for himself and the team, rather than for those watching.
"I don't think there was a point to prove," Ashton said. "I knew there were great players here and Pat [Lam, Barbarians coach] has done a great job with us all week in such a short space of time.
"The structure we had was to get to the space where we knew it was. And we had the players to exploit it, and they did. I didn't think it was that big a surprise for me, to be honest."
He could have had another but for George Ford sprinting back and catching him. "It was probably the first three days of being with the Baabaas in there," Ashton joked.
While Ashton spoke, nursing a celebratory beer, Lam looked on proud of his fullback. The Bristol coach, who took charge of the Barbarians this week, revealed Ashton's only mistake during the week was to draw a moustache on with permanent marker, rather than a more temporary solution.
That was pretty much the only time he put a foot wrong. Ashton met with Jones on Friday to remind him he was still there. Jones enjoyed catching up with him and said he would take a look at him if he ever returned to the Premiership. But he must make that move back over the Channel to put himself in the England shop window.
"If he does then there is already one suitor lined up. Lam would love to bring the band back together at Bristol. "I do have a paper," Lam said, laughing. "When this guy wants to come home there will always be a place with me! I'll be waiting for him."
Ashton enjoyed the freedom of Twickenham. It was like 2011 again when he scored six in two for England. He has 39 caps and 19 Test tries to his name. Move back to England and he looks certain to add further, ending a four-year exile. He felt he did not have a point to prove, but this was an impressive statement from him nonetheless.
"It was great opportunity for me and I wanted to carry on doing what I've been doing all year," Ashton said. "I'm very grateful I had the opportunity to do that. I'd like to have scored a couple more but I'll take three."