Rugby Union: Top 5 Jonny Wilkinson performances
The next few weeks will see the last remaining chapters of Jonny Wilkinson’s rugby career played out after the England legend announced he will retire at the end of the season.
In a glittering career the Toulon star, who is 10/1 with Ladbrokes to become England Head Coach at some point in the future, has won nearly every major honour that has come his way with the most memorable moment coming in Sydney when his drop goal won England the Rugby World Cup.
To celebrate this icon of the game, Ladbrokes News takes a look back at the 34-year-old’s magnificent career and picks out the top five Wilkinson performances.
2002: England 31-28 New Zealand, Twickenham
England were already gearing up for the 2003 World Cup when New Zealand came to Twickenham in 2002 and the Red Rose outfit were looking to stretch their unbeaten home record to 16 matches.
Regarded as the best side in the world, New Zealand came to west London meaning business but they ran into a Jonny Wilkinson right at the top of his game.
Wilko kicked 16 points and scored a virtuoso try, chipping the ball over the All Black back line before gathering the ball and crossing the whitewash.
If anybody in world rugby did not know about England’s star fly-half, they were soon given a sparkling introduction to his genius at HQ.
2003: Ireland 6-42 England, Dublin
England were the nearly men of the Six Nations Grand Slam after failed attempts in 2000 and 2001 but this was an opportunity Wilkinson and his teammates were not going to pass up.
The fly-half led England to a 42-6 demolition job of Ireland scoring 15 points and orchestrating the small matter of five tries to enable Clive Woodward’s men to leave their Grand Slam hoodoo behind.
2003: New Zealand 13-15 England, Wellington
This match proved to be a pivotal moment in England’s quest to win the 2003 World Cup.
Martin Johnson’s side went to the back yard of the All Blacks and won despite being reduced to 13 men because of misdemeanours by Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back.
But England held out for a famous victory with Wilkinson scoring all of his side’s points (four penalties and a drop goal) in a rain-soaked and windswept Wellington.
2003: England 20-17 Australia, Sydney
The pinnacle of Wilkinson’s career came in Sydney on a November evening in 2003 when his last-gasp drop goal, with his wrong foot no less, won England the Webb Ellis Trophy.
The former Newcastle star scored 17 points and turned creator for Jason Robinson’s first half try as England overcame Australia to complete their journey to World Cup glory.
2013: Saracens 12-24 Toulon, Twickenham.
Wilkinson’s move across the Channel to Toulon rejuvenated his career at just the right time and last year he returned to Twickenham with the French giants to show just what England had been missing.
The 34-year-old led Toulon in the Heineken Cup semi-final against Saracens and put on a vintage Wilkinson display at HQ, kicking seven penalties and a drop goal in a 24-12 victory.
The former England captain outshone Owen Farrell, the man tasked with taking up Wilkinson’s mantle for England, on that day and Toulon went on to win the European Cup that year.
The two sides clash again on Saturday in this season’s final with Saracens 5/4 for victory and Toulon 4/6 favourites to retain their crown. Can Farrell stop the master this time around?
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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