Jonathan Peter Wilkinson, CBE, born on 25 May 1979, is an English former Rugby Union player who represented England and the British and Irish Lions. He rose to prominence during the 2003 Rugby World Cup and is widely acknowledged as one of the best rugby union players of all time.
Wilkinson played a crucial role in the England Rugby World Cup-winning squad, scoring the winning drop goal in the last minute of extra time to defeat Australia in the final. Despite several injuries, he made a remarkable comeback and led England to the final of the 2007 World Cup in Paris.
After spending twelve seasons with the Newcastle Falcons in the English Premiership, Wilkinson moved to Toulon in 2008, where he won two European Cups and a Top 14 Title.
In addition to his achievements at the international level, Wilkinson toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2001 to Australia and in 2005 to New Zealand.
Recognizing his significant contributions to the sports industry, Wilkinson was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Surrey on 3 April 2009 at Guildford Cathedral.
In early December 2011, Wilkinson announced his retirement from International Rugby, followed by his retirement from all rugby at the end of the 2014 season. His last two professional games resulted in championship wins.
On 24 May 2014, he led Toulon to a decisive 23–6 victory against Saracens in the 2014 Heineken Cup Final. A week later, he led Toulon to another championship, this time the French Top 14 Final against Castres at the Stade De France. Supporters from both French clubs paid tribute to him by singing “God save the Queen” at the final whistle.
Throughout his career, Wilkinson received several prestigious awards and honors. In 2002, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), and in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List, he was promoted to Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). In the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to Rugby Union. In 2003, he was named BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year and also received the IRB International Player of the Year award.
Wilkinson’s records speak for themselves. England won 67 out of the 91 games he played in, and he scored a record-breaking 29th Test drop goal against France in the 2008 Six Nations Championship. He surpassed Wales’ Neil Jenkins’ record tally of 1090 test points with his first converted penalty against Scotland on 8 March 2008. On 26 February 2011, he regained the record for the highest tally of international points by overtaking Dan Carter of New Zealand with a penalty against France at Twickenham. He also surpassed Ronan O’Gara to reclaim the overall points scoring record for the Six Nations during the 2010 tournament. Finally, Wilkinson holds the Rugby World Cup points scoring record with 277 and is the only player in history to score points in two Rugby World Cup Finals.