x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Toulon boost chances of signing Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson's potential switch to Toulon has moved a step closer after the southern French club secured their Top 14 status with a 22-12 win at Dax.

Jonny Wilkinson's potential switch to Toulon moved a step closer last night after the southern French club secured their Top 14 status with a 22-12 win at Dax. The England fly-half is believed to be on the verge of quitting Newcastle and joining Toulon in the summer, but the deal was thought to be contingent on the big-spending French club staying in the top flight. Tana Umaga's men made sure they will not be returning to Pro D2 after just one year back in the big time as victory at the Stade Maurice-Boyau - sealed courtesy of tries by Joe van Niekerk and Sinoti Sinoti - means they cannot finish in the bottom two. They can now proceed with their ambitious summer recruitment, with Wilkinson set to be their marquee signing. The Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal said last night the club will announce on May 18 - two days after the end of the Top 14's regular season - the list of players they will be bringing in for next season. Felipe Contepomi, Sebastien Bruno, Pierre Mignoni and Kris Chesney are among the players to have already signed for Les Varois, who will be managed by Philippe Saint-Andre from next season. The utility back Tom May, Wilkinson's teammate at Newcastle, is also heading to Toulon. Boudjellal refused to comment last night on the expected acquisition of the 29-year-old Wilkinson, England's 2003 World Cup-winning fly-half who has not played since suffering a dislocated kneecap last September. *PA Sport