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Ludovic Mercier crazy reverse pass


Step and unbelievable dummy sets up try


Benito Masilevu's huge side-steps


Brian O'Driscoll Breakdown Masterclass


Southland sensational try after big bump


Tameifuna's huge hit on Michael Hooper


Mike Brown's great try saving tackle


One Year to Go 'til Rugby World Cup 2015

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Is Jonny back to his best?

Is Jonny back to his best?

In years gone by Jonny Wilkinson has developed a reputation as possibly the hardest hitting number ten in world rugby. Memories of Luke McAllister running straight over Irish stand-off Ronan O'Gara in the 2006 NZL vs IRE Test create a rather delicate image for fly-halves. That simply isn't the case with Wilko, however.

Wilkinson has put in massive hits on numerous occasions, and at times actually had shoulder problems from it. Have a look at this huge hit on Emile N'tamack or this great tackle on Justin Bishop .

Wallaby captain Stirling Mortlock is by no means a small centre. He's probably one of the biggest at international level actually. In saturdays Quarter Final 'upset', Jonny Wilkinson equals him in the challenge, stopping him in his tracks thus defusing a potential Australian counter-attack. It is somewhat of a rarity seeing a centre run at a flyhalf and not making it over the gain-line.

It would've taken a brave man to put money on England pulling off a victory over the Wallabies, but with Jonny's predatory-like defensive work, accurate goal kicking, and a dominant pack of gorillas up front, the England vs France Semi Final could be more even than most people are forecasting, with the World Champions looking like they're coming back to form at the right time.

Jonny has had a bit of trouble with this World Cup ball, and has complained that they're using replicas on the practice field. But in the big games, surely he would still be the man you would bet your house on when it comes to taking vital kicks or slotting a winning drop.

Predictions anyone?

Final Score in the quarter final: 12-10

Posted at 8:46 am | 33 comments

Viewing 33 comments

Pedro October 10, 2007 9:13 am

Wilkinson is arguably the best fly half in the world when hes fit.Its not the case now I have to say... Hes not at the 2003 WC level.As for a prediction for the semi-final result, France will win 18-10 and go on to be world champions (now that the wallabies are out of the picture).

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 9:48 am

back to his best??? he's around 50% for goal kicking, (which lets face it is all he offers along with a few bit hits) he's made one tackle and dropped a few field goals against teams who really shouldn't be that close on the score board to a nation like England in order for wilko to feel a field goal is essential. he along with the other "elite" no.10s in world rugby have had pretty average tournaments. Carter has shown no form with either boot nor handling skill, Henry should have taken a gamble on either McAlister at stand off or Nick Evans, unfortunately larkham was injured so we've not seen him and o'gara...well less said about him the better. best no.10 in RWC so far has been J M Hernandez. yes the game Arg play is limited and not that difficult for someone like Hernandez to get right but he has been excellent. France to beat Eng, SA to edge out Arg (in what will be he most physical game of the RWC) and SA to be champions of World rugby when it's all said and done!

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 9:54 am

France will get too emotional again like they did in 1991 and chokeSA will probably win

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Northy October 10, 2007 11:04 am

Wilko may not be back to his best but you can see the difference he makes to the England back line as soon as he is back on the pitch.barkley played well at 10 against USA, but obviously this wasnt the greatest of oponants.dont wanna even start on the SA game but look at the difference he made when he played against samoa and Tonga. his passing is always top notch which gets the centres running onto the ball, never having to stop or turn around to catch a crap pass, how can anyone say his game is limited to a few big hits and goal kicking? he clearly is the most organised 10 around and this shows when he can make an unperforming set of backs change direction like they have done in this world cup!obviously im English but you gotta respect this guy as one of the best... if not the best 10 at the world cup, and again i will admit that he has yet to fire on all cylinders!will agree that Carter has underperformed.predictions... will be tough against France but i reckon we will edge em. however even though a revenge game against SA, after the 36 drumming they gave us would be an awesome end to this world cup, i am still of the opinion that this is SA's time! SA to win a thriller against England in the final... unfortunately!

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mr. england October 10, 2007 11:21 am

JW. to say that the guy has been out for the majority of time since his '03 magic you cant expect him to be up there with the players who have been there week in week out but he is!! i think he is exactly what england need their backline is on fire when he is around and inspires his team to put that extra effort in! as for goal kicking there has been countless rumours about the quality of balls being used and if JW AND Dan Carter can have such bad success rates surely there must be something a miss?anyway england to beat france. no more than 2 tries from england (and thats a generous 2) but no doubt JW will let his boot have his say! lets just keep the penalty count down forwards and we should be ok!

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 11:21 am

Hi Guys, Wilkinson underperforming, but makes a huge difference to the England side. Hernandez must be the form fly half of the tournament. Can't believe everyone thinks SA will be in the final the Argies have the beating of SA (by 15), they will never play as badly as they did against the Scots, and will munch the Boks upfront. England France Semi - I fear France will choke again.

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Tom October 10, 2007 11:58 am

I really didnt think Jonny played well at all in this match. He missed some kicks which , if he ws at his best he would of nailed. He knocked it on, and rarely got into the match, this tackle here was probably his highlight of the game, but he seems to lift the English team when he is just on the field, playing well or not. I rekon and hope France get into the final, but i think SA might take it this year, well the two best teams are out now, so it makes it abit more of a gamble, anything can happen in the game of rugby!

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Scot_borderer October 10, 2007 12:02 pm

Wilkinson the man you'd bet your house on? He doesn't have anything like Paterson's record, you don't see Chris complaining about the ball! Wilkinson is like England- all hype no substance.

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 12:38 pm

Apparently condom sales in Australia have plummeted after it was discovered you only need one Jonny to f**k 15 Aussies!

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andy October 10, 2007 1:25 pm

can we have the highlghts from the England vs Oz game on here please. I'd just played rugby (early kick off) and was several beers down before the game even started, therefore i remember very little of the game appart from shouting at the screen. Our fly half is Aussie and got MOM!! nothing to do with sympathy, we wouldn't do that.

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 1:43 pm

The best tackling flyhalf in modern rugby remains Henry Honiball - read up on what his opponents had to say about him.Johnny is probably the best tackling 10 at the moment, with the possible exception of Butch James.The best 10, by far, has been Hernandez, and SA will have to shut him down if they are gonna win. He has all the skills of Michalak with more temperament, strength and consistency.

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 4:19 pm

jonny's kicking was horrible that game, SA has the title for sure for 07'.

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 6:47 pm

france will beat england, but the other semi and the final itself is very unpredictable

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 7:30 pm

Argentina will beat SA... I am confident.

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aaron October 10, 2007 7:31 pm

Unpredictable tournament. Who would have guessed that Oz and NZ would both be heading home?!?Maybe England aren't back to full strength yet, and the Australia game was small compared to whats to come... If they lift even more, England for the semifinal and SA for the cup.But at this point, anything is possible.

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 9:33 pm

england hasn't made any try against australia, that is no longer rugby. I hope that france will show england what rugby realy is about. sorry for the england fans but it is quit clear for me engalnd is no longer one of the best. what would england be without Wilkinson? no more

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Anonymous October 10, 2007 11:47 pm

HE SHIT AT GOAL KICKING NOW!!!!!and he dosn't do as much hits as he used to if you asked me hes only at 60%

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Anonymous October 11, 2007 12:51 pm

As an Englishman living in France I must say that the French are very confident about themselves but I think England will take them out. Don't get me wrong I think the French are a very strong side but they will choke and their forwards will get penalised and then punished by Wilkinson's boot. Watch out for Jason Robinson as well he's fast as lightning. The England forwards have to play hard without getting over eager for the ball. My opinion England 2 tries + 3 Penalties because I strongly believe that England are dangerous when they perform under pressure. But Rugger is a funny old game anything go's. Whatever the outcome I will be at Stade de France Saturday night wearing the England shirt with pride.

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Anonymous October 11, 2007 2:52 pm

Ou est le papier?Ou est le papier?J'ai fait, j'ai fait, j'ai fait une merdeOu est le papier?I just taught my 10 year old French nephews the new ending to la Marseillaise and they love itEnjoy the matches!

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-7- October 11, 2007 6:37 pm

I think England can win against France, they play much better under pressure, and France could be to overconfident, after their win against the ABs. BUT, France did win against 'm and their playing at home, which is always a bonus (except against Arg, it seems). I hope England wins but I'm far from certain... My predictions are: SA beat Arg comfortably (say by 10 points) and England win by a couple of points against France. SA will take the cup. My hopes are: England win, and take the cup again. Johnny isn't not at his best (2003), but England is much better when he plays. He's a play maker, and a match winner. By the way, deep respect for France, beating the ABs!

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Anonymous October 11, 2007 10:40 pm

All the teams left in the tournament apart from England are shithouse

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G-unit. October 12, 2007 1:39 am

Who can say who's going to win? If the French forwards can get parity with the english, than they can go a long way to winning the game... 2nd, they have to keep Johnny out of their half! he can win the game for England...3, even if he's not as good as four years ago, it goes without saying, that England are about 10 times better with him on the field, they just seem more confident of themselves, and sure, the forwards know if they get him the ball, he'll take the right options pass/kick/tackle he's a smart experienced player...really that's all you want...The french? if past history is any indication, after a big game like in 87' (against aussie in the semi's) 99'(all blacks semis) they just don't have another 'big game' in them...then again, they seem more consistent under Laporte...it's a 50/50 call! I'm hoping France...hell any of the four teams can win!

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Smidy October 12, 2007 4:26 pm

Losing Matilda.....Was that the cries I herd after the game...hahahahah

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Anonymous October 13, 2007 8:55 am

yeah sure he can tackle but so can most 10s wilko is having a pretty poor world cup & looks off-pace. mortlock goes in high here & wilkinsonn should be expected to mill him

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Anonymous October 13, 2007 9:59 pm

Dan Carter is easily better than Johnny When he's in form. But the bad thing about them both is that they both only play good in about 2 games every world cup. But in the end England are just fair dinkum gay!. Now that Aussies and Froggies are out, GO THE BOKS!!

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Anonymous October 13, 2007 10:00 pm

I agree with second comment, did you see him against france he missed like 2 conversions and 2 drop goals what a retarded rugby player!.

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Anonymous October 14, 2007 12:09 pm

hes not at his kicking best which doesnt benifit us against the stronger teams but his whole overall game is better than it has been for a long time!

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allen1rugger October 15, 2007 2:00 am

hell yea they will defend the cup

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Nick November 02, 2007 1:44 pm

Its hilarious now reading what guys like Pdro were saying - France to win 18-10. Where did they get these ideas from? And how are they feeling now? Fairly stupd, I would think

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Craig November 30, 2007 1:40 am

He's certainly not back to his best but his presence in the starting XV has lifted the teams' overall peformance. I'm not a big fan of Wilkinson considering the fact that I'm Scottish but he'd make a good captain. He's like Jason White and Brian O'Driscoll in the sense that he leads from the front and never takes a backwards step.

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mat n December 26, 2007 5:55 pm

By Anonymous, at October 14, 2007 12:00 AM WTF are you on, calling Jonny a retard, so being retarded means that he can still nail Mortlock, Gitua and loads more. look how many points he has scored, his try v. NZ in '02 the kicks he made in wellington when Eng won 15-13 In crap conditions, so shut the hell up, and at least put your name down, come back when your balls have dropped you dick Mat n

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I love punany December 31, 2007 12:12 pm

agree i do not. Strong in the ways of the force is this young wilkinson. The kicking ability he posses is like no other from a padawan learner and the ability to tackle is even better than some jedi masters like luke skywalker and lawrence dellalio. Yes, thats right.Yours faithfully Jedi knight James edwards

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mat n January 15, 2008 6:40 pm

man what a game every1 in the pub went mental when the whistle went quality match and it was only fit that Jonny got the points after all the critism he has had

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