Wilkinson retires from international rugby
December 12, 2011
Jonny Wilkinson retires as the second highest points scorer in international Test rugby © Getty Images
England World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson has announced his retirement from international rugby.
Wilkinson, who kicked the drop goal that brought England World Cup glory against Australia in 2003, announced on Monday evening that he will no longer compete at international level. The iconic fly-half will, however, continue to play for club side Toulon.
Wilkinson retires in second on the all-time Test scoring lists with 1,246 points - 1,179 of those for England - placing him just behind New Zealand's Dan Carter. His record for his country includes six tries, 162 conversions, 239 penalties and a record 36 drop goals.
He wrote on his personal website: "I would like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from international rugby. To do so fills me with great sadness but I know that I have been blessed in so many ways to have experienced what I have with the England rugby team.
"I never ever believed that I would be able to give up on this dream which has driven me to live, breathe, love and embrace the game of rugby from the earliest days that I can remember.
"I certainly have no intention of letting this decision change the way that I approach my training and preparation for games. In fact early indication shows me that I'm actually getting more intense about it. Playing the game, representing the team, giving my all and never letting go has meant everything to me.
"The time has come, however, for me to realise that I have gone as far as I can go with this England team and that the time is right for others to enjoy the same honour and pride that I have felt over the past 15 seasons and beyond.
"To say I have played through four World Cups, two Lions tours, 91 international games and a ridiculous number of injuries and other setbacks gives me an incredibly special feeling of fulfilment. But by now I know myself well enough to know that I will never truly be satisfied.
"It goes without saying that I would like to wish Stuart Lancaster, his coaches and the England squad every bit of success available to them.
"I would also very much like to extend those wishes to Martin Johnson, Brian Smith, Mike Ford, John Wells, Graham Rowntree and the rest of the England 2011 World Cup management team who have been fantastic and deserve people to know that.
"For me now, I will continue to focus ever harder on my goal of being the very best I can be with Toulon Rugby Club and continue to embrace and enjoy wherever that path takes me."
And interim England coach Lancaster paid tribute to the legendary fly-half saying: "Jonny has had a fantastic international career which has spanned four World Cups and 91 caps and ranks as one of England's greatest ever players. He will of course be remembered for that drop goal but he is more than that, a model sportsman - down to earth and hard working, who has never stopped trying to be the best that he can.
"Everyone who has played with, coached and watched Jonny play should feel privileged to have had an involvement with him. Not only has he been a world class player but he has inspired thousands to play and watch the game of rugby.
"He will continue to do great things with Toulon and I would like to go and see him in France to learn from his vast knowledge and experience of 13 years at the very top of the international game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'