Steffon Armitage: Bath move is a 'dead deal' says Mike Ford

Steffon Armitage
Armitage won the last of his five England caps in a 17-12 win in Italy in February 2010 before moving to Toulon

Bath head coach Mike Ford has said the proposed deal to sign Steffon Armitage from French club Toulon is "dead".

The 29-year-old flanker has been named in the Toulon side to face Scarlets in Sunday's European Champions Cup and will be cup tied if he plays.

Armitage is now unlikely to feature in next year's World Cup, due to England's policy of selecting home-based players.

Ford has also dismissed any chance of rugby union newcomer Sam Burgess, 25, playing in next year's Six Nations.

Both Bath and Armitage had been keen on a move that would enable the reigning European player of the year to challenge for a place in Stuart Lancaster's squad for the 2015 tournament.

But, despite lengthy discussions, the clubs were unable to reach a financial agreement.

"It's a dead deal," Ford told BBC Radio 5 live. "We couldn't really agree the finances with Toulon, so he'll play for them this weekend.

"We tried our best to get him but unfortunately we just failed to cross the line."

Steffon Armitage, speaking in 2010
"I knew what the risk was coming to France but I thought it would help my career more. I am always hoping and I will keep hoping that I do get another chance with England. I will do anything to play again for England."

Asked if Bath owner Bruce Craig might open his chequebook to get the move done, as he did to land Burgess from rugby league giants South Sydney in February, Ford said the club's focus was now elsewhere.

Former rugby league player Ford said: "After Monday, when it all came out, we've just concentrated on playing Glasgow this weekend.

"We've got two young lads who'll cover the back row but we'll be looking for a loan player to cover us for the autumn internationals if we can. That's where our focus is at the minute."

The 48-year-old indicated that the deal was "nearly done" at one stage but faltered "over complications in terms of the finances involved".

As well as being a blow for England, it is also a setback for Bath, who are without injured back-row options Francois Louw, Carl Fearns, Matt Garvey and Alafoti Fa'osiliva, while number eight Leroy Houston is suspended.

Armitage signed a three-year contract extension with European champions Toulon in November 2013.

He won the last of his England caps in 2010 but has excelled since moving to the Cote d'Azur, winning the European Rugby Cup player of the year award in 2014 as Toulon claimed back-to-back Heineken Cups.

As for Burgess, Ford said there was no chance of the former Bradford Bulls forward playing for England in next year's Six Nations.

Burgess' union debut for Bath has been delayed because of surgery on a fractured cheekbone he sustained in the NRL Grand Final earlier this month.

Ford was speaking on 5 live Rugby. Download the podcast here.

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