New Ottawa Aces signing Guy Armitage comes with an impressive pedigree.
Not only has he represented England in rugby union at the under-20 level and played in England's Premiership, the 28-year-old has four rugby-playing brothers — two of whom represented England at the senior level.
Delon, a fullback, won 26 caps between 2008 and 2011. Steffon, a back-rower, earned five caps in 2009-10.
Steffon, now 35, continues to play in France, while younger brother Joel is a prop with the Southend Saxons in one of England's lower division. Brother Bevon played for Doncaster and Plymouth.
"There was a lot of competition growing up," said Guy, who joins Ottawa from rugby league's London Broncos. "And then as you get older, you don't spend as much time together. So there tends to be more support whenever you're around each other."
Armitage, who has never been to North America, and Ottawa are scheduled to kick off next year in League 1 — the third tier of English rugby league.
"It was an opportunity I couldn't really turn down," he said. "The chance to travel and experience Canada as well."
First up is his Oct. 18 wedding, a challenge to organize during the pandemic. He hopes to get all four brothers and sister Juanita — the youngest — to the family home in Devon, although he says getting Steffon over might be difficult because he is in season and the trip would require quarantines at both ends.
Guy Armitage and the other Broncos players were furloughed in March. He and his fiancee spent two months at their flat in London before things eased somewhat and they were able to go to his parents' home in Devon.
"It was tough at first but then it gave me the opportunity to spend time with my family," he said. "Which I've not been able to do since I was a lot younger."
Guy began his pro career in rugby union, coming through the London Irish academy. After making his senior team debut, he spent time with London Welsh and Wasps.
He switched to rugby league last year.
"There was a moment when someone passed my phone number to a rugby league coach at Hull FC — Lee Radford — and he asked me if I wanted to go on trial. My dad just said 'Go for it. You might just like it.' "So I did."
And he did like it.
"Nothing came of that trial but then I went on trial to London Broncos for six weeks and I got a year-and-a-half contract from it."
He was on hand for the last three months of London's 2019 season in Super League. The team was eventually relegated on points difference after winning 10 of 29 games.
London played in the second-tier Championship this season until the pandemic hit.
The six-foot-five Armitage, whose preferred position is left centre, says he likes to take a creative approach to his game.
"I like to play with my head up. If there's an offload on, then more or likely I'd like to give it," he said. "I like to make things happen."
In Ottawa, Armitage will reunited with fellow Broncos Matt Fozard and Olly Ashall-Bott.
Armitage speaks fluent French. His family moved to France — his father found an IT job there — when he was four and spent six years there before relocating in Devon.
He attended Wellington College near London, eventually training with London Irish.
Armitage was a member of a talent-rich England squad that made the final of the IRB Junior World Cup in Padua, Italy, where it was beaten 33-22 by New Zealand.
England teammates included George Ford, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Christian Wade, Matt Kvesic, Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola.
"A hugely talented squad," said Armitage. "As you can see now, a lot of them make up the majority of the senior squad now."
The New Zealand team was equally stacked with Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Charles Piutau, T.J. Perenara, Luke Whitelock, Sam Cane, Brodie Rettalick, Codie Taylor, Dominic Bird and Brad Weber.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2020.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press