Aviva Premiership: Steffon Armitage going nowhere, say Toulon

Aviva Premiership: Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal rules out Steffon Armitage returning to England

By Gareth Llewellyn

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has ruled out flanker Steffon Armitage returning to the Aviva Premiership.

The outspoken comic book magnate had suggested he would be open to allowing the England international to return home to boost his chances of playing in next year’s Rugby World Cup, but has seemingly changed his mind.

“He’ll finish the season in Toulon, and he’ll be at RCT next year as well given that he extended his contract for three seasons last year,” Boudjellal told L’Equipe.

With an injury crisis in their back row ranks, Bath had been in talks to bring current European player of the year to the Premiership, but the move stalled on Tuesday over a perceived “transfer fee” of £300,000, which neither the club nor the Rugby Football Union wish to pay.

“With the English federation it wasn’t a question of words, but a question of numbers,” Boudjellal added.

“Do you know how much Lionel Messi costs? I’m kind. I’ll cut it in two, but the player also has to agree to leave and, for now, he hasn’t come to see me.”

London clubs Saracens and Harlequins had also been linked with a move, but all the talk had been about the West Country club being the front runners should a deal take place.

Now the 29-year-old has returned to training with Toulon and been named in Toulon’s squad to face Scarlets in the opening round of the European Rugby Champions Cup on Sunday.

If he plays for Toulon it would prevent him being able to play for another club in Europe’s new elite competition should a move eventually happen this season.

Armitage has made no secret of his desire to play in the Rugby World Cup, even considering switching allegiances to France through a requalification loophole, but his hopes of playing for England could hinge on a change in heart by the RFU over their policy not to select anyone playing abroad.

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