Jonny has had a love of rugby since the age of four. His father, Phil, played the game for 22 years, and both Jonny and his brother, Mark, were keen to follow in his footsteps. Jonny grew up in the Hampshire county and was educated at Pierrepont, Frensham, and Lord Wandsworth College, Hampshire, and enjoyed playing cricket and tennis, as well as rugby for his schools. Jonny impressed England rugby selectors, when he took part in the English 18s Schools tour of Australia in 1997, clocking up a spectacular 94 points in only five games.
After college, Jonny decided to sign for Newcastle on a two-year contract, after turning down a place at Durham University. Rob Andrew saw his potential and allowed Jonny to play for the England first team, after only just under an hour with the senior rugby team. In his first game for England against Ireland, he broke the records, as England’s youngest player this century.
He stood in for Mike Catt in England’s 79th minute of their game against Ireland, despite some of the protests against the decision, as a few fans believed he wouldn’t be any good because they hadn’t heard of him.
Their fears may have been confirmed, after a disastrous summer for Jonny in the 1998 Australian Summer Tour. However, the Newcastle team had faith in him, and he was soon back to his good form and, during the 98/99 season, he donned what was to be the infamous number ten shirt. He played several other big games before his dream to become part of the England World Cup Squad was realised, in August 1999.
The 30-man squad saw him at his finest; in his practice games against the USA and Canada, he impressed onlookers and his team, converting 13 out the 16 kicks. Then, for the opening match for England, Jonny scored a massive 32 points alone for England in their game against Italy, through tries, penalties and conversions, to conclude their win over Italy with an impressive 67-8 score. From then on, Clive Woodward had Jonny in the running for every match.
Since then, Jonny has confirmed his position as England’s Premier fly half, as well being the hardest tackling number ten in the world. All this has not come without some serious dedication on Jonny’s part. He has been conscientious and hard working, often refusing to leave the training ground (even from a young age) until he got his kicks right.
Recently, Jonny has become a big name in the world of sports. In the closing minutes of the 2003 rugby world cup final, Jonny Wilkinson clinched victory for England against Australia with a nifty drop goal. Jonny has moved further up the fame ladder in 2003, winning BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
Jonny’s popularity continues unabated, despite recurring injuries during 2004, and he was bestowed with the ‘freedom of Newcastle’, an honour shared with Alan Shearer and late Newcastle United legend, Jackie Milburn. He also became the youngest ever Rugby Union player to be awarded an OBE, which he received in 2004.
Following 18 months of injury and illness, Jonny made his first international appearance since the world cup on 23 May 2005 at the Millennium Stadium in Wales as the Lions were playing Argentina. He kicked a conversion and six penalties but the team had to settle for a draw.
His next international appearance was in the Lion’s first test against New Zealand, in which he was the only player to score any points. Jonny then suffered a stinger injury and had to pull out of pre-season training with the Falcons after contracting appendicitis. In 2006 and 2007, he returned to the Falcons and played five international matches but many claimed that his best days were behind him and due to an ankle injury he was left out of the opening games of the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
He did however help England beat Tonga to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament and played an integral role in getting the team to the finals which they lost to South Africa. Jonny was one of only four players to appear in both the 2003 and 2007 World Cup finals.
During a Six-Nations match against Italy in 2008, he became the first English player to score 1,000 Test points and became the highest international point-scorer in March that year before getting injured once again. In May 2009, Jonny agreed to join the French club Toulon on a two-year contract, leaving Newcastle after 12 years. Still playing for the club, Jonny was named Captain of Toulon on 23 October 2011, despite his form being below par at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
To book Jonny Wilkinson as the rugby speaker for your corporate event, function or conference, simply contact the Champions Speakers agency by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling a booking agent directly on 0207 1010 553.
When he’s at corporate events, Jonny is known to cover the following topics:
- Drive & Determination
- Mental Health & Wellbeing
- Rugby Success
- Sporting Success
- BBC Sports Personality Of The Year
- Peak Performance
- Performing Under Pressure
Watch Jonny in an interview here: