England’s World Cup-winning flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson has retired from international rugby.
The 32 year old released a statement on his official website on Monday night. Wilkinson believes he has gone as far as he can with this England team, and so has decided to call time on his illustrious career.
‘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.
‘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.’
Wilkinson played 91 Tests for England and scored 1 179 points (1246 points in 97 Tests including games for the British & Irish Lions), featuring in four World Cup campaigns. While the most recent of those tournaments ended in disappointment, Wilkinson will be remembered as the man who kicked the extra-time drop goal to win the 2003 World Cup final against Australia.
World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward paid tribute to the England great.
‘Jonny was special and he scared the opposition. Everyone has to pat him on the back. The way he defended and attacked, he was a very special player,’ said Woodward. ‘All of us involved in that team [in 2003] just felt very lucky and privileged to have had him around at that time.
‘I’d just like to say well done to him. He has done so much for not just English rugby but also world rugby on the field, and especially off the field.’
While he has retired from international rugby, Wilkinson will continue to play for Toulon in France.