On 12 December Jonny Wilkinson announced that he is retiring from international test rugby. “Jonny Who?” non-rugby fans may ask. “And why is there sporting news on a blog dedicated to the world of EU affairs?” ask other readers.
So, who is Jonny Wilkinson? Jonny Wilkinson is a legend of world rugby, respected and admired by fans all over the world. He played through four world cups, won one of them by slotting the winning drop goal in the dying seconds of extra time, played a total of 91 test matches for England and 6 for the British & Irish Lions, and scored 1,246 test points, which makes him the second highest scorer in rugby history.
But why does this feature on an EU-related blog? First of all, with all this UK-bashing going on in EU-Brussels right now, it is good to think of some of England’s greats, thereby trying to deescalate – at least a bit – the current discussions. Of course, there is also the crucial factor that the author of these lines is a rugby fanatic. But mostly, because he (Jonny, not the author) is an inspirational figure both on and off the pitch.
Constantly striving for perfection, he (again, Jonny, not the author) was a model of hard work and dedication. He is said to be the first on the pitch and the last one to leave it during training sessions – this resulted in his almost surgical precision when it came to slotting penalties, conversions, and drop goals.
He was the kind of player who was not afraid of doing the dirty work when his team needed it. As the cliché goes, he really did wear his heart on his sleeve and put his body on the line for his team
As well as being one of the world’s best players, he is also one of the world’s most modest players. Never did he seek the limelight, and he always put his team first. Full of respect for his team mates and opponents, he learnt French when he came to Toulon in 2009 and speaks it in very well.
So, again, what does all this have to do with the world of EU affairs? Well, hard work, dedication, humility, respect, and intelligence are qualities which will be needed to get through the current crisis. As such, Jonny is a role model for all EU affairs professionals and European politicians.