Class of 2011 excite record breaker Wilko

ENGLAND fly-half Jonny Wilkinson believes Martin Johnson’s emerging side are beginning to show similar characteristics to that of the 2003 World Cup winning team.

Saturday’s attritional 17-9 win over France at Twickenham kept alive England’s hopes of a first RBS 6 Nations clean sweep since that era of Red Rose dominance eight years ago.

Wilkinson, who came off the bench against France to secure victory and in the process again become the record points scorer in the history of international rugby, is ideally placed to judge the respective merits of the class of 2003 and the emerging crop of 2011 who want to match the achievements of their predecessors.

The man who kicked the World Cup winning drop goal eight years ago said: “What we are doing here is based on good values and a good foundation and that does remind me of 2003.

“Not in a romantic ‘we are in exactly the same place’ way. This is a different environment because rugby has moved on.

“In rugby you can’t just build a team straight away. You build a spirit, you build that togetherness, you build understanding and you build momentum.

“In 2003 something very, very solid was put in place and time was taken through attention to detail to develop it, to stick with it, to give guys an opportunity and continue to move on.

England struggled for cohesion in the first-half against France, but found an answer after the interval through Ben Foden’s well taken try.

“Each game we have played so far in the Six Nations and in the autumn has called upon something different from the team,” said Wilkinson.

“Maybe once or twice you are found wanting in games but a lot of the time the guys have been able to find whatever it is that has been needed to win.”