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Wilkinson commits to Toulon


Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson

England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has signed a new two-year contract that will keep him at Toulon until the summer of 2013, the French Top 14 club have confirmed.

The 31-year-old had been widely expected to extend his stay in the south of France after making a major impact following his move from Newcastle in the summer of 2009.

Wilkinson scored 302 points during his first season with Toulon, helping Philippe Saint-Andre's side to reach the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup, where they lost to Cardiff Blues in Marseille, as well as the semi-finals of the Top 14 - and the 86-cap half-back has been similarly impressive so far this campaign.

He has helped the French side to the top of a testing Heineken Cup pool which includes Munster, Ospreys and London Irish.

He was also voted the best overseas player in the French league at the end of last month, and Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal had previously stated his desire to keep England's 2003 World Cup hero "at any price".

The decision puts him at odds with the Rugby Football Union's stance that England will select home-based players following the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

However, it does not necessarily mean that next year's tournament will signal the end of his international career as the RFU also stated that players who chose to play for French clubs could still be selected for international duty under "exceptional circumstances".

The stance has been designed with success at the 2015 World Cup, which England will host, in mind - but Wilkinson will be 36 by the time that tournament rolls around and is unlikely to still be playing at the game's highest level.

However, a man of Wilkinson's experience could be seen as a useful figure to have around the national squad for a year or two after next year's global showpiece in New Zealand, and his new deal may ultimately leave the RFU with an uncomfortable choice between abiding by the new declaration and selecting a player still worthy of his place in the national set-up.

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