Jonny Wilkinson: No plans to retire

Jonny Wilkinson

Following England’s exit from the Rugby World Cup there has been talk of “moving forward”. Changes to the coaches and players have been mooted but one person who has no intentions of retiring is Jonny Wilkinson.

The Toulon fly-half recently told the Telegraph that “I want to carry on, if I’m playing well.” He showed this last weekend when he played 54 minutes for his club side in the 38-0 defeat of Perpignan, where the one thing that he was blighted by in New Zealand: his kicking, returned back to form.

Will we see him pull on the white jersey of England again though? Due to the new RFU rules, which one of Wilkinson’s past mentors, Rob Andrew, has brought in, only those playing in England can represent their country. This also rules out the likes of James Haskell, who after a successful World Cup is now plying his trade in Japan with the Ricoh Black Rams and Tom Palmer who plays for Stade Francais.

Another question to ask is: Should England move forward without Wilkinson in the mix? He’s now 32, which is hardly old, and he could still feasibly play for England in the 2015 Rugby World Cup aged 36, in what would be his 5th World Cup.

But what would the inclusion of Jonny Wilkinson in the England set-up say to young fly-halves coming through the ranks such as Saracens’ Owen Farrell and Leicester’s George Ford?

Would he be the voice of experience as they train? Definitely. But would he also be the burden on their shoulders that if they do not play well then Jonny’s always waiting in the wings? Possibly. Maybe Wilkinson being in the England set-up would help them improve further, step up to a class above him.

He is the player of our generation. I was at primary school when he made his England debut, off the bench against Ireland in the 1998 Five Nations. I was in my last year of GCSEs while the 2003 Rugby World Cup was on, and in the quarter-final a couple of weeks ago I was sat on my sofa watching him as a 23-year-old university graduate.

After 2003’s Rugby World Cup win, tonnes of children wanted to be like Jonny Wilkinson. He was and still is an inspiration, you still see children at their local rugby clubs on a Sunday after training attempting to do “a Jonny”.

I want to see Jonny Wilkinson go out on a high. He’s been such an influence on English rugby at all levels, and a great servant to the cause. For all that he’s done for English and world rugby he deserves that moment in the spotlight once more.

But whether it’s in an England jersey or a Toulon one, time will soon tell.

by Rachel Simmonite

11 thoughts on “Jonny Wilkinson: No plans to retire

  1. It would be nice to see Jonny in a coaching role. But for me, his playing days are over. He needs to be put aside to let the younger guys come through now. Or in 4-8 years time, at the next two world cups, we will have the same problem we had at this one. The likes of Farrell, Ford, Clegg need to be playing top flight, for England sooner rather than later.

  2. Surely a player of Wilkinson’s stature should be ‘managed out’ rather than dropped.

    I remember seeing the last tests of Eales, Campese and Horan. Each of them were a carnival, a celebration of talent and a bit of a special occaision.

    An even like that now (it doesn’t matter who it’s against) would put a cap on a great career. It would also be the acknowledgement that it’s time to move on for both player and team etc…

    The alternatives are a bit sad. George Gregan hung on for too long and was disliked widely (as a player) by the end of his career. Other players just disappeared.

    Whether it’s sooner or later, give the man one last hurrah, have a final celebration of the ‘class of 2003’ and move on.

  3. Guys both good ideas! Give him a big send off in a testimonial game then start priming him for coaching!

    Bottom line is that he has had his time and it’s been amazing, he is arguably the best goal kicker ever but you have to leave the party when its still fun!

    I live in hope that Fran Cotton’s report brings about wholesale changes throughtout the RFU sorry ERFU ;0) coaching staff and player selection! We have the young talent to rival anyone’s (as we should with the pool we have to pick from) and it’s time we started using it.

  4. Jonna wrote the template for the modern fly half, but he has not kept up with evolution. His skills have not receded, but his instinct to stand deep off the scrum and breakdown means slower ball and limits attacking options. It worked great in 2002-2004 when he kicked everything for position and points, but Wilko does remove the line-breaking option more often than not. Toby Flood, Owen Farrell Simpson, Gopperth , Evans all stand aggressively flat and offer a more difficult-to-defend tactic.

    If Jonny can learn the new way to add another arrow to his quiver so to speak there is still great future for club and country for him. If not, well, he will vote himself out of the mix I think.

    He is one of the greatest and most successful sportsmen to ever wear an England shirt. Nothing will change that.

  5. I think if the RFU stand by their guns and don’t pick overseas based players then we won’t be seeing Jonny in an England Jersey in 2012.

    Jonny stated in an interview months ago that he won’t go into coaching straight away, as he will need time to distance himself from the game and get over the fact that he is no longer playing.

    1. That’s the thing. At some point he’ll have to stop playing at international level.

      It would be a shame for him to just fade away. A missed opportunity to celebrate a great career.

      1. wilko wont play again or england.

        Hes chilling in the SOF, and when the england management gets the shake up, they will be looking forward to the next RWC and JW wont feature.

  6. If he’s good enough, he should represent England. It shows the young tyros that they have to keep working and developing to represent England and need to overtake the players who have already got there.

    However for my mind, he is not playing the type of game England should be playing at the moment and therefore agree with Pure Bob that unless he changes his game, there are better options available to England.

    Has been genuine class for England though – I can remember teaching my young children to shout “Go Johnny go, go go” when watching England play (much to my wife’s disgust, I may mention!!)

  7. I think That Jonny Wilkinson should still play for england despite playing in france. He is worth the weight in gold. When he is good he is good and I want to see him over take Dan Carters top spot in the points of being the highest international point scorer. If it was’nt for his golden boot we would have never won the 2003 RWC. And rob andrews wants to think twice before getting rid of a player of this standard

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