Wilkinson calls it quits for England
Published 13/12/2011 | 05:00
England's World Cup-winning out-half Jonny Wilkinson last night retired from international rugby.
Wilkinson, whose drop goal secured victory against Australia in the final of the 2003 World Cup, won 91 caps for his country and made six Test appearances for the Lions.
The English RFU confirmed that the 32-year-old had announced his retirement and, on his own website he wrote: "I would like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from international rugby. To do so fills me with great sadness, but I have been blessed in so many ways to have experienced what I have with the England rugby team."
Wilkinson retires in second place on the all-time Test scoring lists with 1,246 points -- 1,179 of those for England -- placing him just behind New Zealand's Dan Carter. His record for his country includes six tries, 162 conversions, 239 penalties and a record 36 drop goals.
"To say I have played through four World Cups, two Lions tours, 91 international games and a ridiculous number of injuries and other setbacks gives me an incredibly special feeling of fulfilment," he added.
"But by now I know myself well enough to know that I will never truly be satisfied!"
Wilkinson also played in the 2007 World Cup final, which England lost 15-6 to South Africa in Paris. He was involved in four Six Nations-winning teams -- most recently this year -- including a Grand Slam in 2003.
Lewis Moody, another member of the 2003 World Cup-winning side, who himself announced his retirement from international rugby in October, paid tribute to the departing out-half.
"I'm humbled to have played alongside him," he said. "His contribution over the years -- his work ethic, professionalism and commitment -- has been immense.
"He put everything into what he did. It was incredible to watch him train and perform. The fact he missed four years of international rugby but still amassed 97 caps is unimaginable.
"If he puts his mind to it he could keep doing it and I think he could have given more.
"But for him the decision is right and considering the amount of work he's put in and the number of injuries he's had in his career, he deserves to enjoy retirement."
Interim England coach Stuart Lancaster added: "Jonny has had a fantastic international career which has spanned four World Cups and 91 caps, and ranks as one of England's greatest ever players.
"He will, of course, be remembered for that drop goal. But he is more than that, a model sportsman -- down-to-earth and hard-working."
After spending 12 years at Newcastle Falcons, Wilkinson joined French side Toulon in 2009, and he said that he remains committed to them. (© Independent News Service)