Toulon will release Armitage

Date published: October 17 2014

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Toulon head coach Bernard Laporte has told Stuart Lancaster that Steffon Armitage will be released for all England’s training camps.

Toulon head coach Bernard Laporte has told Stuart Lancaster that Steffon Armitage will be released for all England’s training camps.

The major sticking point has been the reason why England don’t select players who ply their trade outside the Premiership, given that not all of England’s training camps fall under the IRB window.

According to the Guardian however, Laporte spoke with Lancaster to reiterate Toulon’s desire for their star back-rower to play for England again.

Armitage was set to move to Bath earlier this week, before the move collapsed over the lack of a financial agreement between Bath owner Bruce Craig and Toulon’s Mourad Boudjellal.

However if Toulon were willing to allow Armitage to attend every England training camp, then it would be difficult for Lancaster not to consider him for selection. Television footage of Toulon’s matches is not exactly hard to obtain.

“I called the England coach and he said there was talk of Steffon joining Bath,” said Laporte.

“He is not being selected by England because he plays in France but I told the coach there would be an exception before the World Cup, as was the case with Jonny Wilkinson [in 2011].

“They call it ‘exceptional circumstances’ and if they needed Steffon, they could use him then.

“I have told Steffon that if his ambition is to play for England in the World Cup and the condition is going to play in England, I am ready, with the president, to release him for six months, but there must be a guarantee that he would play in the World Cup. And there isn’t one.”

The only problem with Laporte’s words are that Wilkinson was allowed to work with England before the ‘exceptional circumstances’ rule was put in place following the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

The rule is viewed as a loophole if England were to be struck down by injuries, but with good depth currently in the back row and captain Chris Robshaw, Matt Kvesic and James Haskell battling out for the number seven shirt such a situation seems unlikely.

Armitage being able to remain in Toulon and be in contention for England would be the best for all concerned.

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