Jonny Wilkinson, Rugby World Cup, 2003
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Jonny Wilkinson, Rugby World Cup, 2003

Tom Jenkins

It’s not hard to photograph someone lifting a trophy. But sometimes sports stars just don’t play ball. With his drop kick in the final minute of extra time, Jonny Wilkinson won the 2003 Rugby World Cup final – held in Sydney on 22 November – for England. But this introverted young man was a reluctant hero, says Tom Jenkins, uncomfortable seeing himself as anything but doing a day’s work for the team. This made Jenkins’s job a little tricky. “He was the only player who didn’t go anywhere near the trophy," says the photographer. "He was the man, the story, and I was thinking: 'God, what can I do?'” Wilkinson was the first player to leave the pitch. As he walked towards the tunnel with his head bowed, Jenkins followed him and shot a single frame before the press officer – seen on the right – bundled him away. It’s one of Jenkins’s favourite photographs. “I felt I’d really illustrated the story and layered it with deeper meaning. You didn’t need to see his face: everyone knew who No 10 was. Instead, the joy was lit up on the faces of the fans.”  
Words: Hannah Booth



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