1 Jun 2014

Wilkinson signs off in style with Toulon win

11:54 am on 1 June 2014

The former England first-five Jonny Wilkinson ended his glittering rugby career in classic style, kicking European champions Toulon to the French Top 14 title with a 18-10 victory over Castres in Paris.

Toulon, who had not been French champions since 1992, won the Heineken Cup last weekend and this morning 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.

Wilkinson scored four penalties and a drop goal while Delon Armitage sealed it with a try with eight minutes left.

Castres's points came from Rory Kockott's boot and a try from Max Evans.

Wilkinson, 34, made his test debut in 1998 at the age of 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 for his country, 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 test points scorer behind the All Blacks Dan Carter with 1246.

Noted for his unique kicking stance that was later replicated by players around the world, he was deadly in front of the posts and unflappable in the most highly-charged of match situations, never more so than the 2003 World Cup final against Australia in Sydney.

While he did not like to be defined by his drop goal in the last minute of extra-time that won England their first and only world championship, it is undoubtedly the image that comes to mind for rugby fans the world over.