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England suspends Armitage following police arrest

Updated: January 30, 2012, 07:21

LONDON(AP) England coach Stuart Lancaster's crackdown on misbehaving players claimed another victim Monday when Delon Armitage was suspended from the second-tier Saxons squad following his arrest by police over a fight in a nightclub.

The Rugby Football Union said Armitage, who lost his place in the senior squad after the Rugby World Cup, was questioned in the early hours Sunday on suspicion of assault in Torquay, southwest England.

Scrumhalf Danny Care has already been omitted from the Elite Player Squad for the Six Nations, which starts Saturday, for a drunk driving conviction and now Armitage looks likely to have surrendered his last chance of a call-up.

"We take issues surrounding the behavior of England players very seriously and as such have decided to suspend Delon from the Saxons EPS pending the result of the police inquiry,'' Lancaster said. "We will then consider if further action is appropriate.

"High standards of behavior are required from England players on and off the field, and they also need to understand that they should not put themselves in a potentially vulnerable position or environment.''

The 28-year-old Armitage, who has a checkered disciplinary record, played at fullback in Saturday's 23-17 win over Ireland's second-string side in nearby Exeter.

With a recall now unlikely during Lancaster's tenure as interim coach, Armitage looks set to have started just four of 19 matches by the end of the Six Nations.

Armitage was suspended for England's World Cup quarterfinal loss to France because of a dangerous tackle and missed last season's Six Nations because of an eight-week ban for pushing and verbally abusing an anti-doping official.

Armitage's club, London Irish, said it will investigate the latest incident.

"London Irish is extremely disappointed to hear about the incident involving Delon whilst on an England Saxons release period and takes these matters extremely seriously,'' London Irish said. "We fully understand the RFU stance on this matter and will convene our own internal investigation to procure a full understanding of the matter in question, the outcome of which will determine any further action.

"Player conduct is a direct representation of the club and, therefore, inappropriate conduct will be strongly acted upon.''

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