Wilkinson retires from Test rugby

World Cup-winning England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has announced his retirement from international rugby with immediate effect.

The 32-year-old veteran of 91 caps for his country as well as six Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions confirmed his decision on his own website on Monday.

Wilko, whose drop-goal secured victory against Australia in the 2003 World Cup Final, will continue playing for French club Toulon in the Top 14.

The decision does not come as a surprise as the RFU have long made it clear that they intent to enforce a policy of not selecting foreign-based players.

Wilkinson leaves Test rugby as the second highest points scorer of all time behind the All Blacks’ Dan Carter.

“I would like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from international rugby,” Wilkinson wrote on his website.

“To do so fills me with great sadness, but I know I have been blessed in so many ways to have experienced what I have with the England rugby team.

“I never ever believed that I would be able to give up on this dream which has driven me to live, breathe, love and embrace the game of rugby from the earliest days that I can remember.

“I certainly have no intention of letting this decision change the way that I approach my training and preparation for games. In fact early indication shows me that I’m actually getting more intense about it. Playing the game, representing the team, giving my all and never letting go has meant everything to me.

“The time has come, however, for me to realise that I have gone as far as I can go with this England team and that the time is right for others to enjoy the same honour and pride that I have felt over the past 15 seasons and beyond.

“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. But by now I know myself well enough to know that I will never truly be satisfied.

“It goes without saying that I would like to wish Stuart Lancaster, his coaches and the England squad every bit of success available to them.

“I would also very much like to extend those wishes to Martin Johnson, Brian Smith, Mike Ford, John Wells, Graham Rowntree and the rest of the England 2011 World Cup management team who have been fantastic and deserve people to know that.

“For me now, I will continue to focus ever harder on my goal of being the very best I can be with Toulon Rugby Club and continue to embrace and enjoy wherever that path takes me.”

England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said Wilkinson would be remembered as “a model sportsman – down to earth and hard working, who has never stopped trying to be the best that he can.”

“Everyone who has played with, coached and watched Jonny play should feel privileged to have had an involvement with him,” added Lancaster.

Not only has he been a world class player but he has inspired thousands to play and watch the game of rugby.
“He will continue to do great things with Toulon and I would like to go and see him in France to learn from his vast knowledge and experience of 13 years at the very top of the international game.”

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