Ashley Johnson was born in Cape Town. His father, Archie, was a tight-head prop who represented the Proteas - South Africa’s non-white team in the apartheid era. As a schoolboy, Ashley followed in his father’s front-row footsteps, before moving to number 8 and captaining both his school side and Western Province schools.
He joined the Cheetahs in 2006 and played both Currie Cup and Super Rugby in his six years in Bloemfontein, also winning three caps for the Springboks.
He joined Wasps in 2012 and became an instant favourite, with his bulldozing running and powerful tackling. After making his debut from the bench, in a narrow defeat at Bath, he established himself as a first-team regular, with twenty-four appearances in the starting XV. 2013/14 saw him reach the fifty-match milestone and he also scored nine tries.
In 2014/15 he scored a hat-trick in a thumping win over London Welsh, which was the last Premiership game Wasps played at Adams Park. In the return meeting, towards the end of the season, he appeared as hooker, a position where he’d played earlier in his career. He remained in the front row for the 2015/16 season, in which he completed the remarkable achievement of playing all thirty-one first-team games. His one-hundredth appearance came in the home win over Leicester, in April 2016. The following season, he again made thirty-one appearances, divided between the front and back rows.
He passed the 150-game mark in the home win over Newcastle, in November 2017. By the time this season was suspended, he was just two games short of the magnificent milestone of 200 appearances and had scored forty-two tries. All of this season’s tally of three tries came in the European Challenge Cup against Agen, two at the Ricoh Arena and one in France. He has also captained the side on a number of occasions and is one of the most popular figures in the club’s recent history.
"Ashley has to go down as one of the best signings in Wasps history. He has become a fan favourite for several reasons, whether it's his barnstorming carries, massive gain line stopping tackles or for being a very humble character. Ash will be massively missed both on and off the field. He has been the ultimate team man in everything he has done, and we wish him, Chrizaan and the boys all the very best for the future."
- Lee Blackett
“I would like to thank everyone at Wasps that was part of my incredible journey during the last 8 years. To the coaches, players, amazing staff and most of all the supporters, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of such a historic club. I have played alongside some incredibly talented players in my time at Wasps, and more importantly I’ve made some lifelong friends. To Dai Young, who signed me back in 2012, thank you for believing and taking a chance on me - I will be forever grateful. Also, to my wife and three kids, thank you for all the love and continued support, this wouldn't have been possible without you.
“It was a privilege and honour to put on the Black and Gold and I will look back on it with fond memories. Relocating to Coventry and playing at the Ricoh is certainly one of the highlights of my career at Wasps, and I want to thank Derek for making that possible and securing the future of the club. Lastly, I want to wish Joe and the squad all the best for the coming years. I'm so excited to see these youngsters making their mark in the Premiership, I will certainly be your biggest supporter. All the best, Ashley.”
- Ashley Johnson