Wilko is still Europe's best
Wilko is still Europe's bestSHARE
Jonny Wilkinson added one more accolade to his decorated career when he was named ERC European Player of the Year.
The prestigious award crowns an outstanding season for the flyhalf who led Toulon to a dramatic European Cup final victory over ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Wilkinson’s influence was all-pervasive during Toulon’s historic European season, but he played a key role in the knockout stage in particular kicking 56 points in the three matches to round off the successful campaign with a total of 108 points.
The 33-year-old was presented with his award, a specially struck gold medal, by ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath, at a ceremony in Dublin.
"To receive an award of this importance towards the end of my career is really special. I feel privileged to have been nominated,” said Wilkinson.
Wilkinson follows in the footsteps of the Leinster duo of Rob Kearney and Sean O’Brien who were winners of the highest individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby in 2012 and 2011 respectively.
The search for the best player from the 44 clubs in ERC’s two tournaments, the European Cup and the Challenge Cup, was undertaken by a Judging Panel which comprised of: Stuart Barnes (Sky Sports), Will Greenwood (Daily Telegraph, World Cup winner and two-time Challenge Cup winner), Stephen Jones (Rugby Correspondent, Sunday Times), Jacques Verdier (Director, Midi Olympique), Gerry Thornley (Rugby Correspondent, Irish Times)
The expert panel was presented with a longlist at the conclusion of the pool stages in both tournaments, and after the quarterfinals and semifinals, that list was pared down to the following five players:
Julien Bonnaire ( ASM Clermont Auvergne), Wesley Fofana (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster), Sitiveni Sivivatu (ASM Clermont Auvergne), Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
The shortlist was also forwarded to the 44 clubs, and their recommendations, as well as those of European club rugby supporters who voted on Twitter @ercrugby were factored into the deliberations of the panel which reconvened in Dublin, host city for the two European finals, to complete the selection process.