Jonny Wilkinson has retired from Test rugby with immediate effect.
Wilkinson’s list of accolades is headed by his 1,246 Test points, a world best of 36 dropped goals, together with a peerless aggregate of 277 points in the RWC.
Wilkinson said: “I would like to take this opportunity to announce my retirement from international rugby.
“To do so fills me with great sadness, but I know that 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. I do, have done and always will believe that I am very capable of performing and thriving at any level of the sport.
“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.
“I have far too many people to thank for what I have been able to achieve, but as always, it starts with my mum and dad, my brother Mark, my girlfriend Shelley, Steve Black, Tim Buttimore and Dave Alred as well as the rest of my family and friends.
“I can never give enough credit to all my team-mates from over the years, and my physios, surgeons, doctors and coaches, too, who have unconditionally helped me through all kinds of thick and thin. Finally, I would like to show my enormous appreciation and gratitude to all the true followers of the game who have given me way, way more time and support than it has ever been reasonable for one person to ask for. You will never truly understand the effect you have all had on me and my career.
“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. Thank you once again.”
England Interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster said: “Jonny has had a fantastic international career which 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, 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. 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.”Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.