Lancaster issues tough response as Armitage is arrested over 'assault'
Stuart Lancaster declared that he will continue to banish England players until the penny drops about the need to improve behaviour, after the RFU confirmed that Delon Armitage had been arrested for alleged assault.
The acting head coach of the national team was forced to make another disciplinary stand by throwing Armitage out of the Saxons squad, just three weeks after dismissing Danny Care from the senior ranks for drink-driving.
In this latest ugly episode, the London Irish full back was detained, questioned and bailed in Torquay after an alleged confrontation in a nightclub which left a local man with a split lip, according to Devon and Cornwall Police.
Arrest: Delon Armitage is being probed by police for an 'assault'
Having taken decisive steps to
address yet another off-field controversy, Lancaster said: ‘What’s
important is the reaction to the action – how you deal with it – and
certainly the message we want to give is that this sort of behaviour
isn’t tolerated and if players can’t work that out, they will be
suspended or de-selected. Eventually, the message will get through and
if it doesn’t get through it will be reflected in selection or
‘We take issues surrounding the
behaviour of England players very seriously and as such have decided to
suspend Delon from the Saxons pending the result of the police inquiry.
We will then consider if further action is appropriate under the EPS
code of conduct.
Axed: Armitage played for Saxons against Irish Wolfhounds on Saturday
'High standards of behaviour are
required from England players and they also need to understand that they
should not put themselves in a potentially vulnerable position.
'It’s extremely disappointing, but we
have made the right decision in response to this. I had no option, to be
honest. I think the message will get through.
‘I spoke to Delon and he was
disappointed to get himself in this position. I’ve also spoken to Toby
Booth (London Irish director of rugby) and Damian Hopley (chief
executive of Rugby Players’ Association). Everyone has been supportive.’
London Irish added their support to
the RFU stance and this incident is bound to have wide-reaching
implications for Armitage, who spent part of his childhood in Brixham,
Rebuilding job: Stuart Lancaster is trying to mend England post-World Cup
First of all, there could be further action by the union, although there wasn’t in the case of Care.
And in light of this latest
disciplinary setback, his prospects of a recall to the senior England
squad any time soon have vanished. That is likely to encourage him to
take up the option of a move to Toulon in France at the end of this
Being reunited with his brother
Steffon on the Cote d’Azur would serve as a fresh start, but would also
signal the end of his Test career.
Just last week, Armitage suggested he was being ‘victimised’ after four suspensions for a variety of offences last year.
Unfortunately, this latest episode –
if allegations against him are proved – suggests a volatile temperament
that he is unable to control.