Championship Focus: Code and Channel hopper Guy Armitage

Since Guy Armitage switched codes in August 2019, he has featured in Super League for London, signed for Canadian club Ottawa and joined French side Villefranche.

But during that period he has played just nine times, and he now finds himself on the sidelines again.

The 29-year-old former Wasps and London Irish centre recently moved across the Channel in search of valuable Rugby League game time, having seen the Aces decide not to enter League 1 in 2021.

But shortly after his arrival, Elite 2 was suspended, and he is currently waiting to hear when he will be able to continue his development in the 13-man code

Armitage penned an 18-month deal with the Broncos in 2019, playing once in the top flight alongside matches on dual-registration at Doncaster and London Skolars.

He started all five of the Broncos’ 2020 games as Danny Ward’s side made an encouraging start, but since then – like so many others at this level – has yet to play again, despite signing for clubs in two different countries.

“It’s been a bit of a waiting game,” Armitage admitted from the south of France.

“I’ve still got access to a gym and time to run and keep fit and ready.

“I’m still going to carry on and there’s definitely more to come from me.”

Armitage’s Rugby League journey began when Paul Cooke – then on the coaching staff at Doncaster RU – recommended the outside back to his former Hull FC teammate Lee Radford.

“My first game of Rugby League was Doncaster against Hull reserves and they put me straight in to see how I’d cope,” Armitage said.

“Basically all they’d told me was to roll the ball back for the play-the-ball.

“But the basics of the game – trying not to get tackled, and to tackle whoever has the ball, are the same.

“It was my first time playing and I enjoyed it straight away – it’s a lot quicker than union and the ball is in play more.

“And if you want it (the ball), you can go and get it.”

Cooke’s next recommendation was to another ex-teammate of his in Danny Ward, and after a four-week trial, Armitage was handed an 18-month contract.

“I settled in for the first few months and was looking forward to getting a full season under my belt,” Armitage continued.

“I played the first five games, but then everything stopped.

“It’s been quite frustrating because I’m still keen to have an impact in League, but I’m still healthy and young enough to give it a go.”

It was during lockdown last year that Armitage signed for Ottawa, a project he was enthused about being part of.

“It was massively exciting,” he said.

“It would have been awesome to get over to visit Canada, and it’s one of the opportunities that rugby can provide you with.

“I had a good chat with Laurent Frayssinous and his view on the game. How he wanted to play was really exiting.

“We were only a month away from starting pre-season when everything came out.”

The Aces’ decision to defer their entry into the league meant that Armitage had to look elsewhere for his next Rugby League opening, at a time when the market is tough even for the most seasoned of players.

It was then he decided to look at options across the Channel, which was aided by him being fluent in French from a childhood growing up there.

Former Broncos hooker Eloi Pelissier helped him look for opportunities, and when a New Zealander at Villefranche headed home for family reasons, a spot opened up in their squad.

The only problem then was the almost immediate curtailing of the Elite 2 season due to Covid measures.

“I’d just got here when the restrictions started and I’m just training now and waiting to hear when the league may restart,” Armitage added.

“We’re a bit in the dark about it, but there are whispers about mid-March, although nothing has been confirmed.”

You get the impression that whatever lies ahead for Guy Armitage, his Rugby League adventure is far from over yet.

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