Jonny Wilkinson: playing in Challenge Cup final with Toulon at Twickenham Stoop would ‘tick a lot of boxes’

April 26th, 20124:01 pm @


“You start every game at zero and what has gone before doesn’t make any
difference,” he said. “You have to work hard to ensure you get continued
success and we’ve all done that this week.

“We know that Stade Francais are a good team and it is important we get off to
another good start like the one we got against Harlequins. The win over
Quins was massive for us and we all want to make it to their home ground in
Twickenham for the final.

“There are still a few of us left in the Toulon squad who remember the bitter
disappointment of losing to Cardiff Blues in the 2010 final, in our own back
yard in Marseille.

“The fact that defeat came a week after we had lost in the semi-finals of the
French Championship just made it even worse – and more determined than ever.

“The defeat to the Blues showed us just how high the quality is in the Amlin
Challenge Cup when you get into the latter stages. It has been a massive
learning curve for us playing in Europe and the challenges keep on getting
bigger and bigger.

“We played Newcastle Falcons, Lyon and Petrarca in the pool stages and then
Quins as the first of the Heineken Cup teams that came into the last eight.
Now we have to beat Stade for a place in the final.”

Wilkinson’s European record dates back to 1997, when he scored a try on his
debut for Newcastle in a 72-24 home win over Edinburgh.

He has since notched up 589 points in 47 games for the Falcons and Toulon
combined in both the Challenge Cup and Heineken Cup.

He played in three Challenge Cup semi-final defeats with the Falcons, losing
to Quins, London Irish and Worcester Warriors, and in a losing Heineken Cup
quarter-final and Challenge Cup final with Toulon.

“The French Championship winning team of 1992 is still revered here in Toulon.
The date of the final, and the players, are all recalled with huge
affection,” added Wilkinson.

“Our final defeat in 2010 has long been forgotten and it would be nice at this
stage of my career to help deliver a title to Toulon and be remembered in
the same way. If you want to make your mark as a team you have to be the
best, otherwise it simply doesn’t count.”

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