They say that only the greats can tinker with fate.
Here was Jonny Wilkinson back at Twickenham, proud in his white shirt, albeit that of Toulon, and the match was in the balance. With five minutes to go the ball was slipped back to him 35 yards from the posts.
Young Owen Farrell, Wilkinson's successor in the England No10 shirt, recognised the danger and hurtled towards him. Still Wilkinson did not rush; he steadied himself, swung the left boot and took the tackle, which was as fierce as Farrell could make it. By the time he looked up his dropped goal had skidded between the posts.
He has done that somewhere before. It may not have been the cleanest strike – "It crept through," said Wilkinson afterwards. "It was a bit lucky." – but yet again the job was done on his old stamping ground. Clearly the posts at Twickenham are still in the same place as they always were.
So Wilko was back, riding off with the man-of-the-match award as the solitary point scorer for the Toulon side and fuelling speculation that he might somehow join the Lions in Australia. The rest of his points came from penalties. After meticulous contemplation, he was popping them over at will. He did not miss one.
Wilkinson somehow looked smaller. This was not because he has shrunk. It is just that the rest of them have mushroomed alarmingly since he entered the rugby stage over a decade ago. The multinational Toulon back row would never be allowed on the Severn Bridge in high winds. They are massive and so are the centres outside him.
Wilkinson still looked as if he had just come out of college. But they all listened to him. He, is after all, the captain. Goodness knows in what language he issued his instructions. He is fluent in French now, they say, but there were only four Frenchmen in his team. Perhaps that helped to explain Toulon's uncompromising devotion to a fierce, physical game rather than the pursuit of any "je ne sais quoi".
We did not anticipate an exhibition of twinkling rugby with the ball balanced on the manicured fingernails of some dainty winger, but this was brutal fare. In fact, the not-so-dainty winger, Chris Ashton, touched the ball once in the first half. The two sides thudded into one another in open play and at the set scrums with predictable ferocity and one waited for the penalties and the penalty-takers to step up. But not for long.
The new Saracens song, bravely sung by a soloist before the game, knew what was coming. "The blood of our heroes will water the turf," he bellowed. And soon Mako Vunipola did indeed have to leave the arena for attention, his body leaking. That song may have seemed a good idea at the time but it is probably best if it receives no more airtime than a Wizard of Oz tune of recent acquaintance.
Once the game was under way it was apparent that the penalty count would decide the outcome and there was Wilkinson as if he had never been away, cupping his hands, staring motionless into the middle distance for a few seconds before swinging his exquisite left boot at the ball, which obediently flew between the posts.
But Wilkinson contributed more than that. Occasionally he jinked left and right, beating a man or two before fearlessly going into a morass of Saracen forwards.
His handling and kicking from hand were flawless. In a multinational side he remains the archetypal English outside-half, who eliminates error and reduces risk. The English have generally preferred their No10s to be trustworthy rather than quixotic. They nearly always leaned towards an Andrew than a Barnes. They often cradled Wilkinson like a comfort blanket. They now place their faith in Farrell, a Wilkinson for the 2010s.
Farrell did not disgrace himself but had to be content with a consoling pat from his opposite number at the final whistle and some fine compliments from him when Wilkinson spoke afterwards. Farrell kicked all but one of his penalties; he threw the odd wayward pass when Saracens scented an opportunity and he had to concede that Wilkinson was the old master at Twickenham in this semi-final.
However it is anticipated that Farrell, not Wilkinson, will be with the Lions in Australia. And there may be a few Australians who are relieved by that.
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