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  Wednesday, 2 October, 2002, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
A Ryder Cup lesson
In his latest exclusive column, England and Newcastle fly-half Jonny Wilkinson praises the efforts of Europe's Ryder Cup team and asks whether lessons can be learnt by other sports.

Victorious Ryder Cup captain Sam Torrance
Torrance guided Europe to victory at the Belfry

'Nothing comes for free, you have to earn it'. That is the mantra I have chosen to adopt during my career and how it was proved to be true during this year's Ryder Cup.

Sunday's victory at the Belfry was magnificent, but not necessarily astonishing.

The European team may have been underdogs, but the uniformity of their will to succeed was never in doubt.

From one through to 12, each and every player had a single aim: to succeed. And they were marshalled superbly by perhaps the best team player of the lot; Sam Torrance.

The parallels to other team sports are there for all to see; and rugby is certainly no different.

It was a good team performance but we will continue working on our weaknesses as we always do

For the Falcons squad there are some obvious comparisons to be made.

While we will always back ourselves to win, we nevertheless remain a young side - one that must stand or fall not by relying on the brilliance of the few, but by the will of the many.

And I'm pleased to say that the result against Leeds last weekend was an example of nothing less.

The Tykes are undoubtedly the surprise outfit this season and I was delighted we sent them home frustrated.

After the defeat against Leicester, we badly needed to right a wrong and we had to give the fans something to shout about.

It was a good team performance, not great, but we will continue working on our weaknesses as we always do.

It was also a memorable day, not just for myself, but the entire Wilkinson clan.

Playing alongside my brother was the realisation of a dream. And to finally see things through the same eyes was special, believe me.

Mark had a great game and to be able to achieve our goals together was superb.

Our parents and grandparents were amongst the Falcons crowd cheering us on and I'm delighted that we gave them something to celebrate.

I noticed with interest on Monday the latest rumour concerning the possible revamp of the international season.

The stories suggesting that England may join a new Tri-Nations series are certainly exciting, but here I must add a voice of caution.

While playing any of the Southern Hemisphere sides always remains an honour, my concern is for the players and the clubs who pay their wages.

Unless the entire global season is thought through, and thought through well, the extra burden of such an intense tournament could have a debilitating affect on those sides taking part.

There is a lot of rugby to be played from November onwards, so it's important to keep things in check.

All Black Leon MacDonald is tackled by South Africa's Breyton Paulse
Bring on South Africa and New Zealand

The implementation of a new series must be sympathetic to the clubs who provide the players.

Their needs can sometimes get lost amid the hype that international rugby creates, but they remain vital to the health of the sport in this country and they, more than anyone, have the players best interests at heart.

So it's vital to strike a balance.

Clearly such a tournament is exciting for the fans and would bring an extra level of competition to the game, but caution is paramount because we can't afford to get it wrong.

Which leads me on to England. With the big three, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa fast approaching, we're aiming to emulate our Ryder Cup heroes at Twickenham.

And you know what? If we can match the consistency of Colin Montgomerie, the form of Philip Price and the confidence of 'Sam The Man' we might, just, enter the Six Nations with a clean sheet.

And what a boost that would be. I do hope France haven't got too used to that Grand Slam.

Full team previews




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