Ford: Armitage deal is dead

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Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Bath have conceded defeat in their pursuit of Steffon Armitage with head coach Mike Ford admitting they have failed to agree financial terms with Toulon.

Armitage sought the move to the Recreation Ground in order to win a place in England’s squad for next year’s World Cup, but securing release from his three-year contract with the European champions has proved impossible.

Bath sought financial assistance from the Rugby Football Union to help fund the transfer on the grounds that England also stand to benefit, but the request was refused.

The 29-year-old back row has been included in Toulon’s 24-man squad for Sunday’s Champions Cup clash with the Scarlets and Ford will look elsewhere for back row injury cover.

“It’s a dead deal,” Ford told BBC Radio Five Live.

“Like I said earlier in the week we tried our best to get him, but we just failed to cross the line and couldn’t agree the finances with Toulon.

“Steffon plays for Toulon this weekend and it’s a dead deal. We’ll be looking in the transfer market for a loan player to cover for us.”

Bath head coach Mike Ford stressed earlier this week that interest in the 29-year-old would be terminated were he to become cup tied with Toulon, effectively setting this weekend as the deadline for negotiations.

Armitage hopes a move to Bath would clear a path to his involvement in next year’s World Cup as currently England only pick overseas based players in exceptional circumstances.

Toulon head coach Bernard Laporte revealed at a press conference on Thursday that the reigning European player of the year would be allowed to leave on a short-term basis if guaranteed World Cup selection.

“It’s a curious story. I was surprised myself when I was asked the question Monday at the presentation of the European Cup,” Laporte said.

“Steffon has signed for another three years with Toulon so he could hardly go. I think he has not been approached directly.

“But I was clear with Steffon and said ‘if you want to play in the World Cup and if the condition is that you must play in England, I am ready, along with the president, to release you for six months’.

“But he must be guaranteed to play at the World Cup. And there is none (guarantee).”

Under the Aviva Premiership’s injury dispensation rules, clubs are permitted to spend up to £400,000 on cover for a like-for-like player who has been ruled out for at least 12 weeks.

Armitage, who has been a revelation since swapping London Irish for Toulon in 2011, topped Bath’s list of targets, but they are now ready to turn their attention elsewhere.

Published: Thursday 16th October 2014 by The News Editor

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