Back to News Articles
Back to News Articles
Jonny Wilkinson signs new two-year deal at Toulon
Jonny Wilkinson formally signalled the beginning of the end of his international career on Monday when he signed a two-year extension to his contract at Toulon that will keep him there until June 2013.
England have already given prior warning that after the 2011 World Cup they will not pick players based overseas, so, as he indicated he would last month, Wilkinson risks effectively calling time on his international career after the World Cup in New Zealand.
The Rugby Football Union, building towards the 2015 World Cup when it is determined that all of its best players be home based, has given itself a get-out clause by saying that it reserved the right in “exceptional” circumstances to pick an “overseas” player but essentially the die is cast. Wilkinson knew that when he decided to re-sign with Toulon.
Wilkinson’s decision also reflects on the contentment he has found on and off the field in Toulon, where he is revered by the passionate home fans and where, until he popped a shoulder in October, he enjoyed an injury-free run. He has been playing with freedom and authority.
After arriving in France in the summer of 2009, Wilkinson scored 302 points in his first season and last month was voted the overseas player of the years in the Top 14. This season he has continued in similar vein, spearheading Toulon’s Heineken Cup challenge, while he is also currently the top scorer in the T14 with 169 points.
“It’s magic because Jonny is perhaps the best player in the Top 14 and he’s the one who gives us the least stress,” Mourad Boudjellal, Toulon’s multi-millionaire club president, said. “It seems only natural that he should stay here. It feels as if he’s always been here.”
Toulon chose to release the news yesterday with a stark announcement on the club website: “This Monday, December 27, 2010 early in the afternoon, fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, the England international, has extended his contract with Toulon for two seasons.”
Meanwhile Gavin Dovey is to leave his role as England team operations manager for the RFU to become Cricket Australia’s team manager. Dovey, an Australian, is to succeed Steve Bernard when he stands down from the role after the Cricket World Cup, with a handover period observed during the subsequent tour of Bangladesh.
The RFU will aim to appoint Dovey’s successor after the Six Nations at the end of March.
England team manager Martin Johnson said: “Gavin has proved to be an invaluable and integral member of the England management and he has been well liked and respected by everyone associated with the squad.”