It’s the debate that’s raged on for some time now, and while some feel that by choosing to play abroad Steffon Armitage has made his intentions clear, this intimate chat with Martin Bayfield should bring further clarity to the issue.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has said that he will only choose players based outside of England in exceptional circumstances. He’s had ample opportunity to use that clause to his team’s benefit, but hasn’t, instead opting for locally based players, snubbing the 2014 European Player of the Year.
Armitage explains to Rugby Tonight’s Bayfield that the paths he’s chosen haven’t been taken lightly. He and his family spent many years outside of England, and he is fluent in French. It’s in his blood.
“I’ve spent most of my life there. I went to school there. I’m fluent in French. I started playing in Nice at the age of 10. It’s still a big part of me,” he said.
When asked the all important question, he doesn’t skirt around the subject.
“I still want to play for my country. I’m ready. If they want me to play, I’ll be there.”
He explains that he wanted to head back to the UK and give things a go for the Rugby World Cup, with a proposed move to Bath. That didn’t work out for one reason or another, so he’s made the best of life at double champions Toulon, where he believes he’s played the best rugby of his career.
While it’s not the route that the current RFU or England Rugby regime have approved of, Armitage’s form has been such that fans have called for his selection, where perhaps now more than ever he could make a big difference to the side, just a year out from the World Cup.
credit: Bt Sport/Rugby Tonight