x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Jonny Wilkinson lifts Toulon to European Cup final win

The England World Cup winner played his last match as a professional in the United Kingdom at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, signing off in fine style by playing his part in Toulon’s 23-6 final victory over Saracens.

Bakkies Botha, left, of Toulon celebrates with team mates during the European Cup final against Saracens on Saturday night. Jamie McDonald / Getty Images
Bakkies Botha, left, of Toulon celebrates with team mates during the European Cup final against Saracens on Saturday night. Jamie McDonald / Getty Images

CARDIFF // Jonny Wilkinson said helping Toulon to their second successive Heineken Cup triumph in what was the penultimate appearance of his career was “something I’ll remember forever”.

The England World Cup winner played his last match as a professional in the United Kingdom at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, signing off in fine style by playing his part in Toulon’s 23-6 final victory over Saracens.

Wilkinson, who celebrates his 35th birthday on Sunday, added the conversions to tries from Matt Giteau and Juan Smith, and slotted home two penalties as well as a drop goal with his right foot, bringing back memories of his World Cup heroics in the final against Australia 11 years ago.

“It’s a hell of a feeling. I can’t say enough just how proud I am to be a part of this team, to have been able to play in this competition and to be able to play against teams like that as well,” Wilkinson, who will end his career after Toulon’s Top 14 final against Castres on Saturday, told Sky Sports.

“Our season’s got one more week left but this is something I’ll remember forever.

“There’s a lot of relief, a lot of excitement, a lot of sheer adulation. At the moment, it’s just trying to take it all in.

“It’s a privilege to have been part of that game, to have been part of this final and to have won it – I couldn’t have asked for more.”

England’s Steffon Armitage was awarded man of the match for his stellar performance that included four turnovers, although, like Wilkinson, he was quick to hail his teammates.

“All the guys showed a lot of heart and it just shows that work rate and playing for your teammates helps a lot,” he said.

“All the boys today were superb, they never gave up and it was good to come away with a win.

“We always knew there was a good chance they might come back so we just had to keep pushing on from there and that’s what the boys did. We worked really hard in training all week and it paid off.”

Saracens, like Toulon, also have a shot at domestic glory as Saturday they take on Northampton in the English Premiership final at Twickenham.

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