No player wants to forgo the opportunity of playing for their country, but for some it is the cost of furthering their career when they opt to play outside the country they have represented internationally. For some it even seems to enhance their development...
Steffon Armitage is currently in such a situation. Playing for Toulon and forsaking the chance to turn out for England, the former London Irish player is enjoying the form of his life in France and is posing some serious questions to England head coach Stuart Lancaster and his staff as to whether they should break protocol and attempt to make a call up work out.
"Of course I would still like to play for England, but at the moment I'm enjoying rugby and learning all the time from these great players," said Armitage recently.
No regrets are held by Armitage as he focuses on continuing to produce the kind of display week-in, week-out that most recently helped his club see off Cardiff Blues in their Heineken Cup pool stage match over the weekend.
His form is also a remarkable reaction to a difficult summer as he has shown just how focused and dedicated an individual he is to work hard and move forward.
With such strong signs, both performance-wise and in the mentality stakes, that Armitage now possesses the kind of hardened will and maturity to not just play for England, but to be a leading light, should Lancaster give serious consideration to trying to make it work?
"What makes it difficult when a player plays in France is that they are not available for our camps when we need them," Lancaster said recently on the subject. "We have got a camp coming up at the end of this month and we have an agreement with the Premiership clubs to have access to the England players. It is not under the IRB release window so we can't get the lads who are in the French clubs."
The burden should not lie with Lancaster however, as this is where the RFU really has to step in and fulfil one of its main purposes. That English clubs are losing talent to better-paying French sides is one issue that needs addressing, but in the capacity of its role to protect and enhance the best interests of not just the domestic but the international game, should the members of the RFU board not be working flat out on some kind of compromise whereby they work in collaboration with the IRB and the French clubs in question to secure the release of players?
Compensation, paying percentages of wages, or some such other financial incentive would surely open the door to players like Armitage being able to fulfil a career-enhancing experience of spending a few seasons in a top-class foreign league, while at the same time being able to provide their international side with all the benefits that such development brings.
A player should not be punished for wanting to further himself, and a governing body with a remit should always be seeking new ways in which to ensure that at least an effort is being made to find a way to make it all work.
"I've had no contact with England whatsoever," said Armitage. "But it doesn't surprise me. I knew by coming to France I would dent my chances. I understand Stuart Lancaster's position, but I thought the move would be beneficial for my career."
Honest words and a frank appraisal of the situation by Armitage. He's in little doubt as to how the situation is, but shouldn't the powers that be now take some responsibility and contemplate trying again to find a way to make it all work?