Martin Johnson had a few choice words for Matt Dawson after Jonny Wilkinson criticism - Ruck

Martin Johnson had a few choice words for Matt Dawson after Jonny Wilkinson criticism

England legend Jonny Wilkinson just wasn’t a natural playmaker,” says his former halfback partner Matt Dawson.

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In a column in 2010, Dawson wrote, “What is missing in his repertoire is an ability to read the game, understand where England are playing and where they should be playing.”

Dawson also noted that Wilkinson’s reliance on other players for inspiration was a weakness.

“Wilkinson can play in the way that has been planned on a flip chart in team meetings, but if it comes down to him to work out on the hoof what options to take, more often than not he will kick – and miss opportunities to attack.” Dawson further added,

“That is not news, it’s the way it has always been. Jonny needs players around him – guys like Mike Catt, Will Greenwood, myself or Kyran Bracken – to take decisions, then he will execute them brilliantly.”

In response to Dawson’s comments, England legend Martin Johnson, who was the captain in 2003, fired back and said, “I didn’t make any decisions either; it was all Matt Dawson.”

Meanwhile, Austin Healey, a former player who was never a fixture in the team or in any one position, defended Wilkinson and said, “Get off Jonny Wilkinson’s case – and that includes you Matt Dawson.”

What England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup heroes look like now, some are very different

Sir Clive Woodward’s England lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy for the first – and so far only – time in 2003, after a Jonny Wilkinson drop goal in extra time.

Woodward’s side are still the only northern hemisphere side to win the World Cup, with the other nine tournaments won by South Africa (four), New Zealand (three) and Australia (two). 

In a video posted by England Rugby’s Instagram account, Wilkinson – who scored the all important drop goal 28 seconds from time – said: ‘It’s great being back with all the guys from the squad 20 years on.

‘It’s great to be able to see everyone, and to get a feel of what everyone’s been up to, but also to I guess get a feel for why we were able to do what we did 20 years ago, because it still lives on in everyone.’

Take a look at how some of the key players look now:

Phil Vickery

A former Gloucester and London Wasps prop, Phil Vickery called time on his career at the end of the 2010 Premiership season. The two-time British & Irish Lion was a revered opponent across the world, and has since started a successful clothing brand ‘Raging Bull’, with his on-field nickname. Vickery was forced into retirement due to a series of neck injuries, and in 2012 he joined Worcester Warriors as their Scrum Coach.

Vickery has also tried his hand at sports broadcasting, as he was apart of the commentary team for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. His on-screen appearances have also been witnessed across a variety of TV shows, including ‘Celebrity MasterChef’, which he won in 2011. An eternal fan favourite at Kingsholm Stadium, Vickery was appointed the title of Deputy Lieutenant of Gloucestershire in 2015.

Jonny Wilkinson

Renowned for his iconic drop-goal that secured victory against Australia in the 2003 final, Wilkinson transitioned into a coaching role with Toulon, focusing on kicking and skills development following his retirement. He also now works as a pundit for ITV Sport during Rugby World Cup’s and the Six Nations.

Will Greenwood

Greenwood continued to shine on the international stage following the 2003 glory, and went on to represent the British & Irish Lions for their 2005 tour to New Zealand. He ended his career at Harlequins in 2006, and soon gave his experienced views through analysis and punditry. Greenwood co-hosted the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ TV series with former Wales international Scott Quinnell, and was an on-screen analyst for ITV as England reached the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Will has also explored opportunities away from rugby, and is the current Chief Customer Officer for data and software company Afiniti’s London office. Greenwood’s family was struck with tragedy, after his son Freddie died just 45 minutes after being born. The former England centre underwent an inspirational walk to the North Pole in memory of his son, and helped to raise over £750,000 for Borne’s research. Greenwood is a patron of Borne, who are a medical research charity that work with cases of premature birth. He is also a patron of Child Bereavement UK, which is a charity that support parents who have lost a child.