Jonny Wilkinson ended his glittering career in style, almost predictably kicking European champions Toulon to the French Top 14 title with a 18-10 victory against Castres Saturday. Toulon, who had not been French champions since 1992, won the Heineken Cup last weekend and on Saturday took their revenge for their defeat in the final against Castres last year. It was meant to be all about Wilkinson, with “merci Jonny” stitched into all the Toulon team shirts, and it was all about him in a packed Stade de France, with the black and red army occupying the south end of the stadium and the PA playing God save the Queen at the end.
“I would like the thank the whole team, the crowd but also Castres and all the other teams in the Top 14. I don’t have the words, can’t thank the French public enough,” Wilkinson said. He scored four penalties and a drop goal, while Delon Armitage sealed it with eight minutes left.
Wilkinson made his test debut in 1998 at 18, becoming England’s second-youngest international, with his second test a 76-0 thrashing at the hands of Australia in the so-called “Tour of Hell”. From that inauspicious start he went on to play 91 test matches, despite suffering a number of serious injuries, helping them to the 2003 World Cup title and runners-up four years later. He played six tests for the British and Irish Lions, and is the second-highest scorer behind New Zealand’s Dan Carter with 1,246.