Jonny Wilkinson On How Winning The World Cup Made Him Hate Rugby

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Battle.

Jonny Wilkinson has done it all. The former England, Newcastle and Toulon playmaker is regarded as one of the finest players to have ever played the game, having reached the very pinnacle of the game.

He won a World Cup with England in 2003, before going on to win multiple European titles with French giants Toulon. But while for many that World Cup triumph would be a highlight – for Wilkinson it’s quite the opposite.

The pressure that game with kicking that winning drop goal was almost too much for Wilkinson, who has made it no secret in the past that he struggled with mental health problems throughout his career.

“If you see yourself as someone who has to get everything right —which I did for a long time — and have to make sure everyone is happy around you, you see a challenge,” he told the Daily Mail in an interview while promoting his ambassador role for Land Rover.

“There’s a ridiculous amount of pressure.”

“It’s the space you get into where you think you know everything.”

“I walked off after the 2003 World Cup thinking I knew how it works and suddenly found myself hating rugby, thinking, “Everyone is against me, there’s so much pressure.”

Wilkinson is five years retired now and recently welcome his first child into the world. And he’s happier now that he ever was as a professional rugby player. He loves his life – but it’s got nothing to do with what he accomplished as a player.

“I love my life but it’s got nothing to do with the content,’ he says.

“It’s the opposite. When I was part of the World Cup-winning team I had never felt so empty as I did afterwards.

“When we won a couple of championships, at Toulon, I left and there was no sunset waiting for me to stroll into. I found that getting rid of this idea that I was an important person, I could have a brand new world.

“I look at rugby and think, “Would I go back?” Not a chance.”