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Cup hero Wilkinson gets top player prize

Jonny Wilkinson (pictured) of Toulon has been named ERC European Player of the Year 2013.

The prestigious award crowns an outstanding season for the out-half who led the French club to a dramatic 16-15 Heineken Cup final victory over ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Wilkinson's influence was all-pervasive during Toulon's historic European season, but he played a key role in the knock-out stage in particular, kicking 56 points in the three matches to round off the successful campaign with a total of 108 points.

The 33-year-old was presented with his award, a specially struck gold medal, by ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath, at a ceremony in Dublin.

"To receive an award of this importance towards the end of my career is really special. I feel privileged to have been nominated," said Wilkinson.

Wilkinson described winning the Heineken Cup with Toulon as a bigger achievement than his Rugby World Cup triumph 10 years ago.

"It is right up there," Wilkinson said. "In fact, it goes beyond (winning the World Cup) because life is in the now, it is not in the past."

The statistics highlight how much Clermont were on top at the Aviva, with Toulon enjoying just 25pc of territory and 32pc of possession, but they tackled like dervishes, making a remarkable 176 to 66.