Armitage’s Bath move collapses

Date published: October 14 2014

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Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage’s move back to the Premiership with Bath is now off according to head coach Mike Ford.

Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage’s move back to the Premiership with Bath is now off according to head coach Mike Ford.

Reports in the English press on Monday stated that the transfer would be finalised in a matter of hours on Tuesday, as Bath looked to sign Armitage in time to register him for the European Champions Cup.

The major concern regarding the move falling through had been centred around the fitness of Mamuka Gorgodze, the signing from Montpellier who is having a knee injury assessed.

However Ford told Sky Sports that the transfer would not be happening after talks between Bath owner Bruce Craig and Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal.

“Bruce and Mourad have been chatting, it’s about finances. It’s not happened, obviously we’re gutted,” said Ford.

Toulon had previously insinuated that they wouldn’t have stood in Armitage’s way, as the move would have allowed him to play in next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The sensational transfer would have brought an end to the long-running saga over Armitage not being selected by England due to the overseas player policy, despite being one of the best players in Europe over the last three seasons.

Armitage had reportedly explored the possibility of playing for France through acquiring a French passport and using the Olympic Sevens loophole to make himself eligible for Les Bleus, but that plan appears to have been scrapped.

Armitage has won two European titles and one Top 14 title with Toulon during his three years there since joining from London Irish in 2011.

His return to England would have been viewed as a moral victory for the RFU following the criticism towards the overseas policy of not picking Armitage despite his outstanding displays.

by Ben Coles

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