Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Bye bye Jonny

91 England caps, 6 Lions caps, 1,246 points, 4 World Cups, 2 Lions tours.

The stats, however, only tell a fraction of the story.

Had Jonny Wilkinson not suffered such a succession of serious injuries after 2003 he would have undoubtedly set benchmarks in international rugby that would surely never have been matched.

And yet doubts persist (not least in his own mind) about whether he was/is a truly great player, doubts which should simply be dismissed.

From 1999 to 2003 no other fly half came close to Wilkinson on the rugby pitch. Forget talk of being manufactured or of being only a kicker and a tackler. Put simply, Jonny was a phenomenal rugby player.

And as for that drop goal...

Furthermore, his international retirement is a typically selfless act. How easy would it have been to hang on in there and win another 3 caps off the bench to take him to the magic 100? That Wilkinson instead chose to relieve the new management team of the pressure of having to decide whether to leave out England's favourite son is a mark of the man.

Enjoy the sun on your back in Toulon, Jonny...

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