World Cup door ajar for Armitage

Tue, 27 May 2014 06:19
Large steffon armitage630

Steffon Armitage will not play for England this season, but coach Stuart Lancaster said it was possible he could be recalled for the World Cup.

Steffon Armitage will not play for England this season, but coach Stuart Lancaster said it was possible he could be recalled for the World Cup.

The fact that the European player of the year plays his club rugby in France with Toulon currently rules him out of England contention, with Lancaster happy to uphold a RFU regulation that players at overseas clubs won't be considered for Test selection save in exceptional circumstances.

The rule is designed to help maintain the peace between the RFU and England's top-flight Premiership clubs.

But there are concerns ahead of next year's World Cup on home soil that England could be needlessly depriving themselves of a talented player by continuing to ignore loose forward Armitage.

The turnover specialist was named man-of-the-match as he he helped reigning champions Toulon retain the European Cup with a 23-6 win over Premiership side Saracens in Cardiff on Saturday.

Armitage followed that up by being named European player of the year by tournament organisers European Rugby Cup on Monday - the same day Lancaster announced a squad for next month's tour of New Zealand where Armitage's name was again absent.

But Lancaster said the 28-year-old could add to his meagre tally of five caps were England to suffer an injury crisis ahead of the World Cup.

"The special circumstances have got to be associated with injuries," Lancaster said Monday. "It's not my rule but it is a rule I support.

"The players are aware: I had a conversation with Toby Flood about his move to Toulouse this summer and he's aware of his position.

"But equally there is that potential there, but it would be more likely closer to a World Cup if that was the case.

"That would have to be for me close to a World Cup, I wouldn't do it at the moment, for a New Zealand tour, autumn international or for Six Nations either. Not when I've got other players out there who could be developed."

Armitage, previously of London Irish, hasn't played for England since 2010 but Lancaster defended the effective ban on overseas players as a way of preventing a host of Test players being seduced across the Channel by big-money offers from wealthy French clubs such as Toulon.

Lancaster also said selecting players based abroad for England duty would amount to a slap in the face for all those involved in brokering the deal between the RFU and the Premiership which allows players to be released to England outside of the International Rugby Board's mandatory Test 'window'.

"Playing for England is the ultimate really, and you want the players to play in our club programme," Lancaster said.

"We pay an unbelievable amount of money for a club-country relationship that gives you access to the players you don't normally get through the IRB situation.

"I do think probably the biggest one is still about players playing here and if Steffon or Toby (Flood) was to go and keep playing for England, what would happen next?

"If Manu (Tuilagi), Corbs (Alex Corbisiero) and Courtney (Lawes), and Owen (Farrell), and the list goes on, if they were to choose to go, I think that would have a knock-on effect.

"But I'm not getting any indication anyone does to be honest, the younger players certainly, all they are talking about is wanting to play for England and for their clubs."

AFP

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 06 May 2016
Crusaders v Reds 07h35 Christchurch
Brumbies v Bulls 09h40 Canberra
Griffons v Eagles 15h00 Welkom
EP Kings v Blue Bulls 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Sat, 07 May 2016
Sunwolves v Force 05h15 Tokyo
Chiefs v Highlanders 07h35 Hamilton
Waratahs v Cheetahs 09h40 Sydney
Leopards v Boland 12h30 Potchefstroom
Griquas v Border 13h00 Kimberley
Sharks v Hurricanes 13h00 Durban
Pumas v Namibia 13h00 Mpumalanga
Golden Lions v Free State Cheetahs 13h00 Randburg
Wasps v London Irish 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Worcester Warriors v Saracens 14h30 Sixways
Bath v Leicester Tigers 14h30 Recreation Ground
Gloucester v Northampton Saints 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs 14h30 Twickenham
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks 14h30 Kingston Park
Zebre v Dragons 15h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Munster v Scarlets 15h00 Thomond Park
Ospreys v Ulster 15h00 Liberty Stadium
Connacht v Glasgow Warriors 15h00 Sportsground
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 15h00 BT Murrayfield
Leinster v Treviso 15h00 RDS
Kings v Blues 15h05 Port Elizabeth
Sharks v Western Province 15h30 Durban
WORLD CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 17
Wales 4 3 0 1 13
England 4 2 0 2 11
Fiji 4 1 0 3 5
Uruguay 4 0 0 4 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa 4 3 0 1 16
Scotland 4 3 0 1 14
Japan 4 3 0 1 12
Samoa 4 1 0 3 6
United States 4 0 0 4 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 19
Argentina 4 3 0 1 15
Georgia 4 2 0 2 8
Tonga 4 1 0 3 6
Namibia 4 0 0 4 1
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 18
France 4 3 0 1 14
Italy 4 2 0 2 10
Romania 4 1 0 3 4
Canada 4 0 0 4 2