Jonny Wilkinson – ‘Mentally I’d had enough of living like that

Posted by Sonja in Oct 16,2014 with No Comments

Jonny Wilkinson may have said on a number of occasions he would never work in TV after retiring, but this weekend he makes his debut for Sky Sports.

Wilkinson has been training every day since he retired and still practises kicking, as well as helping out with coaching at Toulon four of five days a month. But, by his own admission, he is now training for the sake of training, not with any end goal.

In an interview in the Times it is revealed that when Toulon suffered a string of injuries last month Mourad Boudjellal, the owner, asked him seriously if he would consider making a comeback. While he
was probably physically capable, it was not going to happen. In training he still takes an active part and slots in when the team is a player short. But it ends there.

“You find yourself falling right into where you were,” he told the newspaper. “It’s brilliant. I love it. [But] at the end of my career it wasn’t that my body gave out, it was that mentally I’d had enough of living like that.

“I probably could have played on longer. But I’d had enough of putting myself through that. As soon as that touches, my body shuts down.”

His comments put paid to some of the far-fetched suggestions over the summer that he was being lined up for a return in Australia. In fact, he revealed he had almost quit at the end of the 2013-14 season but it was Toulon’s failure to secure the European and domestic double – they lost in the Top 14 final – that made him carry on.

“I thought, ‘You can do this. There’s no point in going out now. You’ll regret it. You’re in an amazing team, make the most of it, go for it next year.’ Then, suddenly, I had committed to another year and it was almost like, ‘If we don’t go out and do the double, all I can do is fail.’ The pressure of doing that swamped the joy of it.”

Would he have stayed on had Toulon come up short again? “I know I’d have been even more keen to run away from the rugby. Now I see there are a lot of things I love about the game that I lost. Now I don’t want to escape, which is what I was doing.”

He misses the game, to his surprise. “I thought I’d want to draw a line under it and let it go. Yet now the do-or-die pressure is off, he has fallen in love with it again. That has made me want to do something with it.”

He will take up a role in the commentary box – “I’ve still got all the notes written before each game, all the things you are thinking about. You either do something with it, or you draw a line under it and chuck it away” – but will not be another former player dissecting the modern ones. “I am not necessarily interested in giving my opinion of who is great and who is rubbish. If you want someone to come in and call black and white, you’re better off getting someone who has maybe never played the game.”

Source: Scrum.com

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Jonny Wilkinson, England’s World Cup winning fly-half, joins Sky Sports

Posted by Sonja in Oct 16,2014 with No Comments

England’s World Cup winning fly-half, Jonny Wilkinson, will feature on-air as an analyst for Sky Sports and as an Ambassador for Sky Sports Living for Sport from October.

He will join Sky’s unrivalled line up of experts during our biggest ever season of international, European and domestic rugby union.

Wilkinson will be in the studio for the first time on Saturday as Sale take on Munster and Premiership champions Northampton Saints travel to Paris to face Racing Métro in Sky Sports’ opening two fixtures in the European Rugby Champions Cup.

He will offer fans his expert insight into the weekend’s action having won the Heineken Cup with RC Toulon for the last two years. He will then be reunited with Sir Clive Woodward and Will Greenwood as England face the All Blacks at Twickenham on 8 November, analysing what it takes to beat the world’s top team.

As part of the new partnership, Wilkinson will also become an Ambassador for the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative, which is free to all secondary schools in the UK and Ireland. He will use his own personal story to inspire young people plus the skills learnt through sport to help increase young people’s confidence, self-esteem, engagement in, and attitudes to, learning, and improve their health and wellbeing.

Wilkinson commented: “I’ve been fortunate enough to have some incredible experiences on the rugby pitch. I’m excited about passing on my passion and sharing what I’ve learnt over the years with Sky Sports viewers and young people in the next chapter of my career. I’ll be in impressive company as I join another successful team and I hope that I can play my part in the studio.”

Barney Francis, Sky Sports Managing Director, commented: “Jonny is a sporting legend. We all remember where we were when we watched that drop goal. Having been there and done it in every competition for club and country, rugby fans will want to hear his perspective on our biggest ever season of international and European rugby. I can’t wait to see him in action.”

Wilkinson retired earlier this year, after taking RC Toulon to the Top 14 and Heineken Cup title in his final season. He ended his career as the second highest international points scorer of all time and played a pivotal role in England’s famous 2003 Rugby World Cup win. He collected four RBS 6 Nation Championship medals, enjoyed Premiership success with Newcastle Falcons and toured twice with The British and Irish Lions.

The Sky Sports rugby union schedule features over 360 live matches this season including Autumn Internationals from England, Ireland, France and Italy, European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, Top 14, Guinness PRO12, IRB Sevens World Series, and women’s rugby.

The Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative has been running in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust since 2003. The free initiative is open to all UK and Irish secondary schools and over 90,000 young people will be involved this year. Wilkinson will join our team of Ambassadors, including Great Britain Olympic Champions Jessica Ennis-Hill and Darren Campbell, plus our Irish Ambassador Olympic Boxer Katie Taylor, alongside our team of 90 world-class Athlete Mentors.

Source: Sky Sports

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Jonny Wilkinson meets Wigan stars ahead of Super League Grand Final and presents players with their jerseys

Posted by Sonja in Oct 11,2014 with No Comments

World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson presented the jerseys to Wigan on the eve of Saturday’s Super League Grand Final.

The former England fly-half, who retired at Toulon the end of last season, was invited to perform the honours by ex-Great Britain full-back Kris Radlinski, the Warriors’ rugby general manager.

‘Privileged to have my shirt presented by @JonnyWilkinson himself! Legend,’ tweeted centre Dan Sarginson.

The St Helens players were presented with their shirts by one of the club’s all-time greats, Tom Van Vollenhoven, who flew in from South Africa for the match at Old Trafford.

Defending champions Wigan will face table toppers Saints in the season’s showpiece hoping for a third title in five years.

Source: Daily Mail

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Jonny Wilkinon – Life after rugby

Posted by Sonja in Oct 09,2014 with No Comments

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Wilkinson, Giteau and Toulon honoured

Posted by Sonja in Oct 08,2014 with No Comments

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Paris – Former Australian international flyhalf Matt Giteau and England legend Jonny Wilkinson were among the winners at Monday’s Top 14 awards ceremony for the 2013/14 season.

Giteau, 32 and who won 92 caps for his country before leaving for France in 2011, won player of the season while Wilkinson was given a special award for his stellar career, from landing the drop goal in the dying seconds of extra-time to beat hosts Australia – Giteau was a member of that squad – in the 2003 World Cup to finishing it last season with a pivotal role in the Top 14 and European Cup double achieved by Toulon.

Giteau, who played centre while Wilkinson was at fly-half, was also outstanding for Toulon’s successful season with his breaks, passing and also kicking which saw him score nine tries and contribute a total of 84 points.

“I am very happy, last year was extraordinary and I am very proud,” said Giteau.

“It is perfect, there is nothing I would have changed.”

Wilkinson, 35, was his usual humble self after he stepped up to accept the award.

“It is difficult to know how I feel, my emoptions are flowing through me,” he said in French.

“I was paid to do something I adore, in the company of incredible players and coaches.

“I was supported by people throughout, and at the end of all that I end up with trophies….I am beginning to realise how lucky I was.”

Toulon’s coaching staff didn’t miss out either as head coach Bernard Laporte and his assistants Pierre Mignoni and Jacques Delmas won the coaches award.

“I would like to congratulate above all the players,” said Laporte, who was coach of the France team that Wilkinson and England beat in the 2003 World Cup semi-finals en route to the trophy.

“When I see what this team achieved last season I cannot help but be blown away, overjoyed.

“I will never be able to thank them enough.”

Other awards went to 24-year-old eight times capped fullback Brice Dulin for best French player on the international stage, one where few France players have shone in another difficult year for the national side under Philippe Saint-Andre.

Revelation of the season went to Castres centre Remi Lamerat, the 24-year-old earning international recognition because of his performances and winning three caps to date.

Try of the season went to Stade Francais’ Julien Arias which he scored against Biarritz while Romain Poite won referee of the year.

Fijian winger Mosese Ratuvou was named Second Division player of the season as his 21 tries were instrumental in Lyon regaining their place among the elite — the Lyon coaching staff took the coach honours.

Source: Sport24

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Wilkinson to attend England Training

Posted by Sonja in Oct 04,2014 with No Comments

Jonny Wilkinson was one of the finest rugby players to have stepped on to a field, but he will not make the mistake of believing that automatically gives him the right to tell others how to play as a coach.

Unlike others before him who assumed their brilliance as a player would make them excel as a teacher, Wilkinson has started the new phase of his career with typical humility and intelligence.

He will not try to shoulder-barge his way into a prominent coaching position following his retirement at Toulon. He will not look to use his media profile to gain yardage in the job market, he will approach it in the same methodical and meticulous way that defined him as a player.

Wilkinson will be involved with the England set-up as they step into a pivotal 12 months that will climax with a home World Cup campaign, but he will be there to observe.

Stuart Lancaster, the head coach, has invited the former golden boy of English rugby to speak to the squad during the forthcoming autumn internationals, yet Wilkinson seems more interested in what he can learn than what he can pass on.

“I’ve spoken to the guys about it and they’ve asked me to come along,” said Wilkinson, who is also spending a week every month coaching his former team-mates at Toulon.

“If there is anything I can add, then we can have a little chat, but more importantly I need to learn my trade. I was a player, but just because I knew how to play doesn’t mean I’ve earned the right to tell other people how to do it.

“I’ve got plenty of time and I need plenty of time to understand where I go next. I’d love to go down to Pennyhill [England's regular training base] and see what they do because what they do is very good.

“I’m also coaching one week every month in Toulon, learning my way around it. I’m coaching individual skills, mentoring some of the young guys, how to cope with the emotional and mental side of things.

I’m really enjoying it, but when you start managing groups, forwards and backs, or the whole team, that’s completely different.

“I don’t know how to do that now, how to manage a team, deal with people, contracts, recruitment, it’s a tough world and the biggest mistake you can make is thinking just because you played the game, you already know it.”

Every conversation about rugby for the next 12 months inevitably turns to the World Cup. Wilkinson is impressed by England, but he is still to be convinced they are consistently good enough to beat the best teams.

He wants England to show in the autumn internationals against New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Samoa that they are coming to the peak of their powers in time to lift the ultimate prize.

“I think the England team is in a really good place,” he said. “They have a consistency that makes sure they are there or thereabouts against the best sides in the world, but they have to learn how to
beat the best teams regularly, to build that momentum. We will know more after the autumn internationals, but I won one Grand Slam in the Six Nations and that was the year we won the World Cup.

“Everyone is going to point to New Zealand as the key game and it is. You get tested everywhere. It’s about pressure, it’s about the bottom end as it were. Can you be amazing and score tries against them? Well, yes, we’ve shown we can do that and a lot of teams score against New Zealand, but what New Zealand do is pressure you all the game.

“It’s the score after you score that breaks the big teams. If they pick up a bit of loose ball, they are off and they score and you are left thinking, ‘But we were in such a good position, how the hell are we here now?’ It’s about showing we can do that to them.

“What New Zealand do is everything very, very well and they wait for you to break and every team breaks. It’s the team that suddenly finds a way to say, ‘No we’re going to do this back to you’. They don’t worry about breaking and we have to change that. They are the ones constantly exerting pressure, which is what we need to turn back on them. Beating South Africa would also be a monkey off the back because we haven’t beaten them in a while. That game is about fronting up physically and the mental side of things.

“They would be the big two victories for me. We need to know we can beat those two teams if we have to. That would be an incredible step forward. We’ve had great effort against them and just fallen short, we want to beat them and say, ‘Yeah, we’re England, that is what we do’.”

Source: The Telegraph

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Jonny Wilkinson announced as All Schools ambassador

Posted by Sonja in Oct 03,2014 with No Comments

The Rugby Football Union today unveiled 2003 Rugby World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson as an ambassador for All Schools. He joins programme supporters including Jason Leonard, Maggie Alphonsi, Andi Peters and Ben Shephard.

Accompanied by Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Emily Scarratt, Jonny went to Streatham-Croydon RFC today to meet students and teachers from 14 local schools – six having joined All Schools this year – at various stages in the programme.

This appointment follows the recent announcement of leading commercial property and real estate services advisor CBRE as Principal Partner of All Schools.

During his visit, Jonny took part in a Canterbury Kit Design Workshop alongside students and teachers from the six schools new to All Schools for 2014/2015, all of whom learnt about the history of the shirt and designed bespoke kits for their school. As well as creating his own shirt design, Jonny spoke to the attendees about what it means to be part of a team, the importance of the shirt and what playing for his school, clubs and England meant to him.

Following the workshop, Jonny headed out to the pitch to help coach students from the other schools during a rugby festival.

Launched in September 2012, All Schools will increase the number of secondary state schools in England playing rugby union. The aim is to have 400 schools enrolled by next year’s World Cup and 750 schools by 2019. One hundred new schools have joined the programme this year, taking the total number of schools in All Schools to 300.

Commenting on his role as All Schools ambassador, Jonny Wilkinson said: “It’s been great to come here today to Streatham-Croydon RFC and meet some of the students and teachers who are benefitting from All Schools.

“I felt strongly about getting involved with the programme, as I think it will make a difference to people and communities across the country.

“Rugby’s not just running around chasing a ball, it is about being part of a team and changing your life. As I’ve seen here today, it can have such a positive impact and energy for so many people.

“In rugby there’s a place for everyone – big, small, thinker, grafter, slow or quick. Everyone in the team is equal and you can all bring your own personality. I think as well, that realisation that you are part of something bigger, the values, it makes you a better person”

Mark Saltmarsh, RFU Head of Education Development said: “Jonny is a fantastic role model for young people and really embodies all rugby’s core values. To have him involved as an ambassador for All Schools means a great deal to us. There’s been a great reaction from students and teachers alike today and I think that’s contributed to everyone having a fantastic time playing our great game.”

Also attending the event was Minister for Children and Families Edward Timpson. Speaking about All Schools, he said: “We want to create a world class education system that gives children all the skills they need to succeed in modern Britain.

“Rugby can help instil confidence, discipline and determination in young people so I’m delighted the All Schools programme is giving so many young people the chance to take up the sport.

Source: England Rugby

“With the World Cup coming here next year, our over £150million PE and Sport Premium has given headteachers the opportunity to offer more sports and employ specialist teachers so more young people can play and enjoy sports like rugby.”

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Prince Harry joins forces with Jonny Wilkinson to mark a year until rugby World Cup

Posted by Sonja in Sep 18,2014 with No Comments

Prince Harry has been appointed as an honorary president of England Rugby 2015 to mark a year to go until the start of the Rugby World Cup.

The prince, a keen rugby fan, took part in a photo-call with former World Cup-wining fly-half Jonny Wilkinson at Rugby School, the birthplace of the sport, to promote the tournament.

England Rugby 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans said: “With one year to go to the tournament, we are delighted to announce that Prince Harry has agreed to be our honorary president.

“The prince is a great rugby fan and recently inspired us all with the Invictus Games.

“We have no doubt that he will help us achieve our aim of staging a tournament that reaches out to new and existing rugby fans.”

Rugby School was the place where in 1823, according to folklore, William Webb Ellis invented the sport by picking up a football and running with it in his hands.

A plaque commemorating the event was erected in the school in 1900 and the trophy awarded to the winners of the Rugby World Cup is named the Webb Ellis Cup.

Tickets for the tournament, which is being played mainly in England with some matches in Wales, are on sale until September 29 after which those for over-subscribed games will be decided via a ballot.

Jevans added: “Our plans are fully on track and we are very pleased with the demand for tickets since they went on general sale on September 12.

“We still have a year of hard work ahead of us but with the team bases announced, the venues and city plans being finalised, excellent support from our stakeholders and tickets on sale we are able to move forward with confidence.”

Source: Mirror

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Boudjellal rules out Wilko return

Posted by Sonja in Sep 16,2014 with No Comments

Jonny Wilkinson will not be coming out of retirement to solve Toulon’s injury crisis according to president Mourad Boudjellal.

The reigning French and European champions find themselves short of options at fly-half at the moment with Frederic Michalak having dislocated his shoulder at the weekend, while Matt Giteau is also out.

New signing Leigh Halfpenny is also still to make his Toulon debut, leaving the team short of kicking options and with just James O’Connor as a recognised fly-half in the squad.

The goal-kicking proved costly on Saturday night when Toulon were beaten at home by Stade Français, with Delon Armitage, O’Connor and scrum-half Eric Escande all struggling from the tee.

That, combined with Michalak’s extended absence, had led to speculation that Wilkinson, who is still in good shape and currently part of the coaching team, might make a return to help out the club.

According to local newspaper Nice Matin, Boudjellal tried to convince the World Cup winner on Sunday with a call to his agent.

“You need to be good. We need Jonny. It’s up to you to convince him,” Boudjellal told Wilkinson’s agent Laurent Quaglia.

However apparently Wilkinson got in touch with backs coach Pierre Mignoni to let him know that a return would not be possible.

And Boudjellal appears to have accepted that is the case, telling RMC Radio that he does not expect his former star to play for Toulon again.

“A return for Jonny? I don’t think it will happen,” he explained.

“It’s not on the agenda at the moment. We would really need to be in dire straits with no more tens available for Wilkinson to come back.”

Source Planet Rugby

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Jonny Wilkinson – Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted by Sonja in Aug 22,2014 with No Comments

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