Wilkinson spotted in bar with Lady Luck
July 16, 2009
England star Jonny Wilkinson relaxes in the south of France following his move to Top 14 side Toulon © Getty Images
More than five years after they were last an item, the rugby world is awash with the rumour that English rugby legend Jonny Wilkinson may be trying to get back together with ex-partner Lady Luck.
The Toulon and England fly-half was recently spotted in a top London restaurant wining and dining the famous harbinger of luck and fortune.
Wilkinson and Miss Luck previously enjoyed a six-year relationship that ended shortly after England's successful 2003 World Cup campaign. After a fruitful partnership, which saw Wilkinson win several Six Nation titles and a World Cup winner's medal (after dropping the winning goal in extra time), Lady Luck abandoned the Surrey born player to the fickle ravages of fate and fortune.
As a direct result of the relationship ending a devastated Wilkinson saw his destiny take a dramatic downward turn as he stumbled through a disastrous few years in which he suffered an abysmal run of injuries, a burst appendix and was involved in a minor earthquake.
Staff at the famous Ivy Restaurant in London anonymously contacted The East Terrace after the pair had enjoyed a three-course meal and a bottle of red wine before heading off to an exclusive night club in a black cab.
"They looked like a couple of young lovers," said one of the waiters who served them. "There was no direct evidence they were back together, they didn't kiss or cuddle or anything. But I could see from the body language that there was certainly chemistry in the air and they were clearly a little bit more than friends. Indeed, Lady Luck seemed so smitten she caused our tills to break down so that we lost all record of what they had ordered and we were unable to charge them for their meal. Talk about some guys getting all the luck."
If the rumour is confirmed as fact it will be a huge relief to England manager Martin Johnson who has taken a huge gamble in including Wilkinson in his elite squad last week despite the number ten's lack of game time in recent seasons. In fact, many have questioned whether Wilkinson had earned his position on merit or if it was the hidden influence of Mrs Luck which had brought about the shock call up.
The RFU are remaining tight lipped on the whole affair and have stated that the personal relationships of their employees are not a matter of public interest.
"I've no idea if the rumours are true," said Johnson when quizzed by The East Terrace. "However, it certainly would be good for Team England if it were so. Lady Luck has spent far too long hanging around with South African players these past few years and I'd be more than happy to know that period of her life is over for all our sakes. However, it must be remembered that whatever Fortune has raised on high, she lifts but to bring low."
When the personification of Luck left Wilkinson after the 2003 World Cup the world record points holder endured such a miserable few seasons he did not manage to pull on an England shirt until the 2007 Six Nations, despite being named as a starter on several occasions.
The reasons for the break up were never made public, but it is believed that Wilkinson's refusal to accept the relationship was over led to the Goddess of Fortune constantly using her ability to control and manipulate the destiny of any man she wishes to bring a plague of injury, sickness and bad luck upon the former Newcastle stalwart. Her cruellest act of revenge was in influencing the decision by the RFU to appoint Wilkinson England captain in 2004 before striking him down again with injury before he had gotten to even play a single game.
"It was an awful break up," said a close friend of Wilkinson. "That woman took Jonny for everything he had. She injured and damaged his shoulder; his appendix; his knees; his groin; his arm and a million other things I can't even recall on the spot. There was even that holiday when there was an earthquake. I mean talk about a bad break up. I'd be very cautious if I were Jonny."
However, not all sources believe the relationship is a genuine one. One senior manger in the English game suggested that the whole situation may have been engineered by Toulon rugby club for their own ends.
"It is well known that the French clubs do not have to abide by a salary cap as we do in England," said the source. "I have it on very good authority that Lady Luck is on the payroll of Toulon and her awe-inspiring ability to alter the destiny of European rugby is being used ruthlessly by this ambitious French club. We need a level playing field. Here in the Guinness Premiership sides can barely afford to even hire a travelling gypsy, cut off a rabbit's foot or bribe a black cat to bring luck and fortune. In France they just go straight to the top of the food chain and hire a deity."
Should the pair come forward to confirm their status as a couple it would be the most significant news in English rugby since Danny Cipriani confirmed he had sold his rugby career to the Devil in return for the chance to be Kelly Brook's boyfriend. A decision widely understood by all.
James Stafford is editor of The East Terrace (www.theeastterrace.com) - an offside view of life in the rugby world
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14