Rugby

Laporte rules out Armitage move

2014-10-17 08:15
Steffon Armitage (File)

Toulon - Toulon head coach Bernard Laporte on Thursday ruled out a move by England flanker Steffon Armitage to English Premiership side Bath.

Armitage had sought the move in order to win a place in England's squad for next year's World Cup, but was unable to secure a release from his three-year contract.

Laporte insisted however that the 29-year-old could still compete in the World Cup as he named the back row in their 24-man party for Sunday's Champions Cup clash with the Scarlets.

Under British selection rules, only players competing in the Premiership can be called up to play for England.

And former France coach Laporte said that the reigning European champions would have allowed Armitage to leave on a short-term basis if guaranteed World Cup selection.

"It's a curious story. I was surprised myself when I was asked the question Monday at the presentation of the European Cup," Laporte said.

"To clarify everything, I called Stuart Lancaster (the England coach) on Wednesday. He confirmed that under no circumstances would Steffon return to England and notably Bath because the club wanted the Federation to participate in the financial operation."

Laporte said that Armitage "had not even been contacted directly by Bath" and would be seeing out his contract which has two years to run in France.

Laporte added that the younger of the Armitage brothers still has a chance of competing in the World Cup.

"The English have a clause, that of an exceptional player. In June before the World Cup they can call a player who is playing outside the country, as they did with Jonny Wilkinson," he said.

Trinidad and Tobago-born Armitage joined Toulon in 2011 after spending five years at London Irish. He began his professional career with Saracens.

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