Friday, 22 November 2013

RWC 2003 - Jonny Wilkinson kicks drop goal

It's been 10 years since England won Rugby World Cup. 83 000 spectators attended a very exciting final in Sydney. At full time, the scoreboard showed a draw 14:14. In extra-time both Australia and England scored 3 points from the tee and when everybody thought the winner wouldn't be decided at that point,  only 26 seconds before the final whistle, Jonny Wilkinson, the hero of the match, nailed a drop goal. England beat Australia 20:17. The Red Rose players became heroes.  A few hundred thousand people celebrated the victory on the streets of London. The players were welcomed by the crowds singing 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'. The key point of celebrations was meeting the Queen who congratulated the team.

10 years later, Jonny Wilkinson is  one of very few from the 2003 starting XV who continues playing for the top level teams. The other player is Mike Tindall who is a playing coach in Gloucester.  Wilkinson became the icon of rugby and one of the most popular players in sports history. His professional attitude, modesty and hard work make him a great example to follow for many generations of rugby players. In spite of injuries, which he did not escape, Wilkinson has been in great shape for years. Apart from winning the World Cup he also has achieved other remarkable successes, such as, winning Premiership, Anglo-Welsh Cup (twice), Heineken Cup and Six Nations (4 times). He also played for British and Irish Lions  and another title he seems to be aiming at is the winning of French Top 14.

Asked about how he recalls the Rugby World Cup 2003, Wilkinson responded with his usual modesty, that he has never watched the historic game in Sydney as he'd like to preserve the memories of that day - the smell, atmosphere and emotions, and watching it could taint the memory. When he talks about the drop goal which he kicked with his "wrong" right leg, he only considers it a culmination of all preparations which his team had started months before the finals. In the key moments the most important was that everyone did what they were supposed to do.

I hope that Jonny Wilkinson will put off his decision about ending the career for at least a few seasons so his fans can admire his great talent.

Do you think England has a chance to repeat success from 2003 RWC? I think they are on the right way to do so but the aim still seems quite remote.