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England’s Johnny Wilkinson retires from international rugby

English rugby star Johnny Wilkinson announced his retirement from international rugby on Monday. The 32-year-old will continue to play club-level rugby for French club Toulon.


AP Jonny Wilkinson, England’s World Cup-winning flyhalf in 2003, announced his retirement from international rugby on Monday.

The 32-year-old Wilkinson, who played 91 times for his country after making his debut in 1998, had his most famous moment eight years ago when he kicked the winning drop goal in England’s 20-17 extra-time victory over Australia.

“The time has come ... for me to realize 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,” Wilkinson said in a statement on his personal website.

Wilkinson’s last appearance for England was in the quarterfinal defeat to France at this year’s World Cup. He finished his international career by scoring a 1,246 test points - a one-time record before he was overtaken last year by New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter.

He will continue playing club rugby with French team Toulon, which he joined from long-time English side Newcastle Falcons in 2009.

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

A fiercely committed defender with a strong tackle for a No. 10, Wilkinson’s post-2003 World Cup career was blighted by injury but he rediscovered his fitness and some of his best form after moving to the warmer climate in the south of France.

Having lost his place in the England team to Toby Flood for this year’s Six Nations title-winning campaign, he regained it in time for the start of the World Cup but failed to produce his form of old with the boot.

“Playing the game, representing the team, giving my all and never letting go has meant everything to me,” he said. “I do, have done and always will believe that I am very capable of performing and thriving at any level of the sport.”

Wilkinson also won six caps for the British & Irish Lions across two tours, in 2001 and 2005.

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