Jonny Wilkinson has confirmed he will retire at the end of the season as he prepares to bring down the curtain on an incredible 17-year career.
Toulon still have two matches left in the season with the Heineken Cup final against Saracens on Saturday and then the Top 14 finale versus Castres on May 31. Wilkinson said, in a brief statement, he will retire at the end of the current campaign but he will leave various tributes and further comments until after their Top 14 match.
“I would like to take this opportunity to formally announce my retirement from playing rugby,” Wilkinson said in a statement on Toulon’s website. “It goes without saying that I have an enormous number of people to thank for their support from all around the world but especially here in France and in England.
“This however is not at all the time to be concentrating on this as I would like to focus all my attention and energy on the team and these final two games of the season. I sincerely thank you all for everything you have given me and for making these last seventeen years something I will never forget.”
The announcement brings to an end a remarkable career and one which saw him slot the World Cup-winning drop-goal in 2003. In total, Wilkinson made 91 appearances for England and played in four World Cups. He also travelled with the British & Irish Lions in 2001 and 2005, making six Test appearances in the process.
At club level he played for 12 years at Newcastle Falcons and then moved to Toulon in 2009. At Toulon he helped guide the club to the Heineken Cup title in 2013 and will go for two more trophies at the end of the current season.
Wilkinson will now embark on the next stage in his career and he is widely expected to head into coaching. “My role is developing,” Wilkinson said back in February. “I now spend most of the week in training, helping my team-mates approach the game differently. I’ve accepted that for a long time, but that doesn’t change the fact that, deep down, I cannot stop competing.”
— RCT – RC Toulon (@RCTofficiel) May 19, 2014
Full story on ESPN