|CLUB Newcastle Falcons |
POSITION Fly half
* Debut: 1998 v Ireland
* Lloyds TSB Man of the Match v Ireland 2002.
Jonny Wilkinson OBE has endured a series of injuries since entering the game’s hall of fame by dropping the goal in extra time that brought England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup final triumph over Australia in Sydney. He is his country’s leading all-time points scorer with 867, having overtaken his mentor and RFU Elite Rugby Director Rob Andrew, and has amassed more than any other player in the Premiership.
He won the first of his 55 caps at the age of 18 years and 314 days as a replacement wing for Mike Catt against Ireland in April 1998. Three years later, he equalled the Lions’ best individual total in a Test with 18 points but his talent extends far beyond deadly goalkicking. He became arguably the finest all-round fly half in the game and was voted ’International Player of the Year’ for 2002 and the ’Players’ Player’ of 2003 by the Professional Rugby Players’ Association, having become only the third kicker to win the ’Golden Boot’ award by reaching 1,000 points in the Premiership. He captained England against Italy in March 2003 and signed a new three-year contract in April 2005 for the Falcons, the club he joined in 1997 from Lord Wandsworth College.
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Jonny began playing when four years old at Farnham RFC and went on to represent Hampshire, and London Schools before being a member of the all-conquering 18-Group party in Australia ten years ago. He then became the youngest England cap since Henri Laird, of NEC Harlequins, in 1927. His career has been interrupted by ten different injuries but his stoical approach encompasses the belief that he has come back mentally stronger every time. During his most recent absence, he has been brushing up his French and learning Spanish as well as playing the guitar and piano. He said: ”You can tell the number of injuries I have had by all the hobbies that I have taken up.” His lucky seat when flying is 64J, the one he occupied on the British Airway jet ’Sweet Chariot’ after the Rugby World Cup success. He also sat in it on his 26th birthday en route to the 2005 Lions tour. A fuchsia has been named this year in Jonny’s honour and, for every plant sold, a donation will be made to NSPCC, his chosen charity.
, South Africa