Rugby Union

Steffon Armitage dream appears over for Bath

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Steffon Armitage's return to the Premiership with Bath is in serious doubt after the 29-year-old was named in Toulon's 24-man squad for their European Champions Cup tie against Scarlets on Sunday.

That's a decision that will effectively end the English side's chances of securing a deal as he will not be eligible to play for another side in the competition, according to the Daily Telegraph.

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Bath have fallen victim of a number of long term back row injuries to Francois Louw, Alafoti Fa’osiliva, Matt Garvey and Carl Fearns this season. If any of them are out for over 12 weeks, then the west country club are entitled to sign a replacement under salary cap regulations.

£320,000-a-year Armitage is said to be their preferred choice, despite having difficulty with the financial side of the deal.

Armitage has been hoping for a move back to England to boost his chances of gaining a place in Stuart Lancaster's squad ahead of the World Cup next year. His policy is to not select anyone playing overseas.

This coming World Cup will probably be Armitage's last opportunity to play as he enters the back end of his career, despite being selected for an extended France national squad last month after revealing he would be open to switching nationalities.

Presidential expectations

It is understood that the Flanker returned to training with his Toulon teammates on Wednesday, but his future with the club seems secure having signed a new three-year contract only last year, according to club president Mourad Boudjallal.

"He [Armitage] will finish the season in Toulon, and he'll be at RCT next year as well given that he extended his contract for three season last year," Boudjellal is reported as saying.

"With the English federation [RFU] it wasn't a question of words, but a question of numbers. Do you know how much Lionel Messi costs? I'm kind, I'll cut it in two!"

Armitage has played five games for England, making his debut against Italy in the opening game of the 2009 Six Nations Championships.

He was awarded the title of European player of the year in May 2014 and will be a standout player in this season's European Champions Cup, should he remain with the 2014 Heineken Cup champions.

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