Jonny Wilkinson, former England Rugby international and Toulon captain, will play his last game of rugby this weekend. I’ll be joining the many rugby fans, across the UK and the South of France who’ll be watching how the final chapter of his playing career unfolds.
Love him or loathe him, Jonny redefined what world-class performance looked like in international rugby.
Much has been written about his obsessive perfectionism, lengthy practice sessions and steadfast refusal to embrace the limelight.
But the level of respect (and love) for Jonny goes well beyond his ice-cool goal kicking and pressure-cooker game winning performances.
Not only was Jonny technically brilliant, he also consistently lived his principles. His actions, over time, spoke in much greater volumes than his press interviews ever did.
Humble and self-effacing, whenever he has always sidestepped questions about winning performances and shone the credit straight back on his team mates. It was the same answer “its was the team” after the 2003 World cup and after last week’s Heineken Cup final.
He’s also won the love and support of many fans by staying grounded and accessible. Even in the early days his teammates were used to the team bus waiting for an extra hour or two, while Jonny made sure that every child following him out of the ground went home with an autograph.
Over time, these actions have shown us who exactly who he is. He doesn’t have to spell it out in interviews. He has let his actions speak for him and in doing this has a place in rugby that transcends even his on-pitch achievements.
In businesses and marketing, your reputation is determined whether your actions match your principles. Saying one thing and doing another doesn’t cut it. Inconsistency (and at worst hypocrisy) won’t last long. Our tolerance for bullsh*t is much much lower thanks to social media and global connectivity.
Ruthless consistency is key, if you walk your talk you’ll win trust and respect. Maybe if you’re as great as Jonny you’ll also win a place in their hearts.
Allez Toulon! Bonne chance Jonny and thank you.