Tindall: England should keep policy


Published: Monday 4th May 2015 by The News Editor

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Mike Tindall has called on England to “stick to their guns” and keep refusing to select overseas-based stars, thereby shunning Steffon Armitage at the World Cup.

Former England captain Tindall backed head coach Stuart Lancaster’s policy of excluding foreign-based players that could see Toulon flanker Armitage left in the wilderness.

World Cup-winner Tindall believes Armitage would have joined Bath last October – and would never have explored swapping allegiance to France – if he wanted an England recall badly enough.

“I think England should definitely stick to their guns,” Tindall told Press Association Sport.

“If Steffon really wanted to play for England he would have come back.

“He looked at loan deals, Toulon wanted a lot of money to loan him, but he could have made it happen I’m sure.

“And you can’t ignore the fact that he looked at trying to play for France.

“So it can’t always be a one-way street where England have to do everything.

“You’ve got to have a share of the responsibility from both sides.”

Armitage helped Toulon claim an unprecedented third straight European title in Saturday’s 24-18 Champions Cup final victory over Clermont at Twickenham.

Former Bath full-back Nick Abendanon produced a scintillating second-half score, but also gifted Toulon a try for Mathieu Bastareaud in an erratic showing.

Abendanon’s season has led to a clamour for the South Africa-born counter-attack king to be drafted into England’s World Cup plans, adding to calls for Armitage’s return.

Australia have relaxed their previously hard-line stance on overseas stars, so Wallabies based abroad with 60 or more Tests under their belts can now go to the World Cup.

Toulon’s Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau fall straight into that category and will doubtless boost Australia boss Michael Cheika’s arsenal this autumn.

Former Bath and Gloucester centre Tindall believes England must not bow to growing pressure to revise their policies however, adamant the approach protects the quality of the Aviva Premiership as well as the national side.

“It sets a good precedent for England if they stick to it, because I think players would see it if they didn’t and that would open that door to others to move abroad too,” said Tindall.

“You could see a load of players going to France and that would damage our club game.

“The fans have a real affinity with the top players in England, watching them week on week in the Premiership.

“If six or seven go to France I think you’d lose an edge of that link between club and country.

“The current rules also set the standard for young players; that they have to work hard in order to achieve things.

“If Nick Abendanon was playing like that at Bath now, he’d be in the England squad and pushing Mike Brown.

“But again he knew the rules when he left Bath last summer.”

Tindall has spent his first year after retiring from rugby embracing a host of celebrity television opportunities rather than chase a return to coaching.

The 36-year-old had a dual player/backs coach role during his latter days at Gloucester – but now admits he is unsure whether he will seek a return to management.

From verbal sparring with celebrity dance expert Louie Spence on The Jump to honing survival skills with Bear Grylls, Tindall has embraced his profile in a hectic 12 months.

Gearing up for the third annual Mike Tindall Golf Day at Hertfordshire’s The Grove on May 8, England’s most-capped centre is keen to keep exploiting his name for the benefit of charity.

“Being away from rugby has given me the chance to determine whether I really want a future in coaching,” said Tindall.

“It would have been easy to go straight to coaching again, but it’s vital to know whether you’re there for the right reasons and not because it’s what you know.

“I’m probably not ready to go into coaching yet, at the moment I’m not missing it as much as I thought I would be.

“Maybe down the line I will, but you’ve got to get out there and examine where your strengths lie.

“We didn’t know how much the golf day would make or how things would go, but we’ve raised just over £100,000 in two years.

“I can feel less self-conscious about having my name on the day’s title when I see where the money raised goes.

“Rugby for Heroes supports a charity called On Course Foundation that aims to help ex-military servicemen into jobs around golf.

“Paul Swain lost an arm when a colleague stepped on an IED and he’s now playing off 12 with one arm.

“It’s humbling to help in any small way.”

:: Mike Tindall MBE is patron for Rugby for Heroes and ambassador for the Midlands Air Ambulance.

Published: Monday 4th May 2015 by The News Editor

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