Cape Town - Although he
believes the Rugby World Cup will be a very open tournament, England legend Jonny Wilkinson, rates New Zealand as favourites - with South Africa hot
on their heels.
a British Airways-sponsored testimonial dinner in Hong Kong, the mercurial flyhalf warned that England could also go all the way if they embrace home-ground
black-tie event was a fundraiser for the Jonny Wilkinson Foundation.
on his career, Wilkinson said that his favourite touring venues tended to be
the sunnier cities. These included Sydney, Brisbane, Marseille and
Twickenham takes first place in his list of top five stadia, followed by Stade
de France, where he played his last ever game; Stade Mayol, Toulon’s home
ground; Stadium Australia, where England won the 2003 World Cup; and the old
Wembley, even though England lost the only match there in which he played.
wouldn’t be pushed on his Dream 15, Wilkinson included Joel Stransky and Jannie
de Beer among the No 10s he would consider. Others were Rob Andrew,
Michael Lynagh, Dan Carter, Stephen Larkham, Ronan O'Gara, Stephen Jones,
Andrew Mehrtens, Gregor Townsend and Freddie Michalak.
that Springbok wing, Bryan Habana, who famously raced a British Airways A380,
probably has the edge when it comes to flat-out speed.
alongside Bryan Habana for two full seasons with Toulon and although we never
raced I got the impression that it would have been pretty close up until the
starter gun went off and then a little humiliating after that... for me, not him.”
Wilkinson’s advice to the teams flying to the World Cup is not to let the
anxiety build up before the big event.
tip for flying before a big competition is to relax. British Airways has always
looked after us brilliantly well and it’s hard enough with all the pressure of
the tournament and performing.
“The key is
to understand that you need to be ready for the first training session, or the
team meeting once you have arrived. There is no point in being ready before
that, otherwise it is just mismanagement of energy. Enjoy the opportunity to
rest and watch a few films because once the World Cup gets going it becomes
harder and harder to switch off... or at least it did for me.”