Steffon Armitage says England players' views are insulting

Steffon Armitage
Steffon Armitage left London Irish to join Toulon in 2011

Steffon Armitage says it was "pretty insulting" to hear England players say he would have been a distraction had he been called into the World Cup squad.

Toulon flanker Armitage, 30, and Clermont Auvergne full-back Nick Abendanon were both overlooked because they play in France.

Abendanon called the players who backed that stance "pathetic".

Asked if he agreed, Armitage said: "Definitely. To hear them say we'd be a distraction was pretty insulting."

Armitage was the 2014 European Player of the Year and was succeeded in 2015 by Abendanon.

Speaking to Rugby World, Armitage added: "At the end of the day all we wanted to do was make the team better and I just think it was wrong for players to say what they did.

"We could have learnt from each other and created more rivalry for places."

The Rugby Football Union has a policy of not picking overseas players unless there are "exceptional circumstances", a position backed ahead of the World Cup by England forwards Tom Wood and Tom Youngs, who said selecting foreign-based players could have affected morale in the squad.

Armitage's omission came under further scrutiny following England's difficulties at the breakdown during the tournament, as they become the first sole hosts to ever go out of the World Cup at the group stage.

England boss Stuart Lancaster's men were undone against Australia by David Pocock's ability to win turnovers, a skill Armitage has become known for during Toulon's three consecutive European-title winning seasons.

Armitage, who won the last of his five Test caps more than five years ago, would be a contender for the open-side flanker position currently filled by England captain Chris Robshaw,

"I do feel sorry for Robshaw because I think he needed some rivalry to push him on," said Armitage.

"Whether he's a world-class seven or not, I can't judge that, but he always works as hard as he can and gives everything on the pitch."

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