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VIDEO – Wilkinson welcomes fans to intense open training session

08 August 2011

  • Jonny Wilkinson chats to RFUtv about the pleasure of meeting the fans
  • Latest open training session at Twickenham Stadium on Tuesday, August 9

England fly half Jonny Wilkinson says that meeting fans gives him as much pride as pulling on the white shirt, and supporters will have the opportunity to meet the star and his teammates on August 9 at an open training session held at Twickenham Stadium.

Gates open at 3.30pm on the Tuesday, with the training session kicking off an hour later. Fans are invited to stay behind after training to get autographs from their heroes.

Speaking ahead of the event, Toulon No. 10 Wilkinson said: "When all’s said and done, these signing sessions are the things that stick in your memory as intensely and with as much pride as some of the big games we play in, because it’s all part of playing for England.

"Training in front of the fans is always a good experience, it gives a nice atmosphere that you don’t usually get at training. It almost makes you switch on that little bit more and focuses you.

"The best thing about it is to be able to engage with the people who support you. I always like putting faces to the cheers, and to see what it means to them – it’s a massive reality check. You realise how much it means to the fans."

England fly half Jonny Wilkinson runs the ball against Wales in the 2011 Investec International at Twickenham Stadium

Photo: Getty Images

This event represents the first open training session during a Test week with England facing Wales at the Millennium Stadium just four days later and Wilkinson expects the intensity to be as high as ever.

"It’s a great opportunity to see how tough it really is," he said. "I get lots of letters from people asking ‘what’s it like behind the scenes’, and to be honest it doesn’t get more real than a training session in Test week.

"It’s a big year for us this year with the Rugby World Cup around the corner, we know that a lot of these fans won’t be able to make it over to New Zealand so it’s important for us to give our thanks and converse with the guys who will be cheering us on from home."

Wilkinson has been part of several epic signing sessions during his England career, once cancelling two flights back to France because there were still fans waiting to see him.

He added: "People often say to me ‘I’m sorry to ask you to sign this’ or ‘you must hate these signing sessions’, and I feel like saying ‘it’s really not a big deal, I haven’t written that much since I left school to be honest!’ but what’s writing your name and having a chat with someone? It means as much to us as hopefully it does to the fans – it’s a pleasure."

The open training session will be the last time that fans will be able to see England at Twickenham before the World Cup after the test match against Wales on August 6 sold out.

England fly half Jonny Wilkinson meets the fans at a Twickenham open training session

Photo: Getty Images

Open training information:

Entrance into the stadium will be via Gate A and parking will be available in the West car park off Rugby Road. The viewing area for the open training will be in the West Stand Lower tier.

  • 2.00pm – Entertainment in West Car Park (Inflatables, Touch Rugby taster sessions)
  • 3.30pm – Gates open
  • 4.30pm – England open training starts
  • 5.50pm – Training closes and autograph session starts

The Rugby Store, situated on the South Stand of Twickenham Stadium on Rugby Road, will be open from 10am and throughout the evening, offering supporters the opportunity to purchase England mementos and items to be signed.

The World Rugby Museum, also open from 10am, will be offering a special entry rate of £2 for adults and £1 for children, giving fans the chance to turn back the clock and learn about the history of the game and its ultimate competition, the Rugby World Cup.