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Heineken Cup
Boudjellal: England selection rule is stupid
ESPN Staff
May 25, 2014
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal celebrates his club's Heineken Cup victory with his usual levels of enthusiasm © Getty Images
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Outspoken Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal has criticised England's policy of not selecting overseas-based players such as Steffon Armitage, calling it a "stupid rule".

Armitage was named Man of the Match after Toulon's 23-6 victory over Saracens in Saturday's Heineken Cup final and Boudjellal believes England are wrong to refuse to select players from the Top 14.

"It's good because it means he just plays for Toulon," Boudjellal told Sky Sports News. "But after that for England and with a World Cup coming up, you have to say you should pick your best players.

"Just because Jonny Wilkinson or Steffon Armitage play in France, it doesn't mean they aren't English. The coach can do what he wants but it's a stupid rule, really stupid. It's misplaced protectionism and today you're punishing players who aren't always choosing to play abroad for monetary reasons."

England have refused to select players such as Toulon's Armitage and his brother Delon because players in the Top 14 are not as readily available to join up with the squad outside official international windows.

But Boudjellal believes English players plying their trade abroad would make more effective operators for their country. "When a player leaves his own country he feels for it more in his heart because he doesn't see it every day, he misses it even more," he explained. "After all that though, it's England's choice."

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