Steffon Armitage insists he never considered playing for France and that his heart remains set on representing England in the future.
Steffon Armitage insists he never considered playing for France and that his heart remains set on representing England.
The Toulon flanker was rumoured to be considering switching to play for les Bleus when a loophole came up following the addition of rugby sevens to the Olympics.
However the regulations were tightened making any switch almost impossible and Armitage revealed to The Times that England had always been his first choice.
Armitage was then linked to a move to Bath last month, only for the deal to fall through, and as a result he is still ineligible to play for England because of the RFU’s policy on foreign-based players.
“It would have been a lot easier if things had worked out with Bath,” Armitage told The Times.
“But it didn’t. At this point, I have to move past that.
“Maybe I spent time in France, but that is nothing, my heart was always with England.
“I definitely still want to play for England.
“As a rugby player, you want to play at the top of the game, and the top of the game is your country.”
An immediate return will be difficult after he signed a new contract with Toulon last season, and Armitage admits it would have been a tougher decision if he’d had any contact from the England coaching set-up.
As it was, Stuart Lancaster and co did not get in touch, and Armitage has resigned himself to his fate.
“That was on my mind, knowing there was a World Cup, but we heard nothing, no feedback from England,” he added.
“That made the decision to stay on in France quite easy.
“It did bother me. But it has got to the point now where I have accepted it.”