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England ponders Wilko spot

When Chris England wrote an 'Evening with Gary Lineker', the eponymous England great watched the stage play three times.

On one occasion he took his Three Lions team-mates to enjoy the drama, co-written by Arthur Smith, that unfolded against the backdrop of the 1990 World Cup semi-final defeat by West Germany.

Thirteen years later, England was moved to create a follow-up of sorts, inspired by the euphoria generated by the nation's triumph at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

'Breakfast with Jonny Wilkinson' observes a similar format as a group of fans gather at their local rugby club to watch the final against Australia that was won by Wilkinson's droop-goal with only seconds of extra time remaining.

The play has been adapted into a film that is on release in cinemas throughout the UK to mark the 10-year anniversary of one of the great moments of English sporting theatre.

A mystery troubling England is whether Wilkinson himself has seen it.

"I did a radio interview last week with a guy who came to see the show when it was on in Edinburgh and he said he went on the same day that Jonny Wilkinson," he said.

"I initially thought 'what the hell are you talking about?' Then I thought, 'maybe he did come, maybe he was in disguise'. Jonny isn't a publicity hound as some sports people are.

"Whether Jonny has seen the play or the film I just don't know. There's nothing in it for him to object to, it doesn't make him look foolish and it's only kind to him."

England was struck by the excitement generated by the Sydney final and the subsequent scenes of celebration that saw thousands of supporters gather at Heathrow Airport to welcome the team home and later descend on central London for the victory parade.

While a friend had spent his life savings to claim a seat among the gods at the Telstra Stadium, England's experience of the 'where were you' moment of Wilkinson's drop-goal was more understated.

"It's tragic considering I'm a sports junkie who has travelled the world watching sport, but I watched the game alone in my front room in my pants eating Rice Krispies," he said.

The image of Wilkinson's right boot connecting is one of the finest moments of English sport and arguably the most famous in rugby history, so England questions why it is so heavily protected by the International Rugby Board.

"The IRB guard it very, very jealously and they've missed a trick because they could have made that moment absolutely iconic," he said.

"It's iconic to people who know and to people who remember, but it deserves a wider audience.

"In a recent sports quiz on the radio a rugby fan was unable to say who scored England's try in the final (Jason Robinson). That's like asking a football fan who's Geoff Hurst.

"It's a landmark moment, yet because the IRB charge so much for the images, the chance to make it into a much bigger deal has been missed."

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