Jonny Wilkinson’s last-minute Rugby World Cup winner drop goal had newspaper editors celebrating as it boosted circulations by about 10 per cent on Sunday morning.
The Sunday Telegraph recorded its biggest increase of the year – without any covermounts or other marketing gimmicks.
One insider attributed its 85,000 sales increase to the “Wilkinson factor” – a huge photo of the England fly-half dominated the front of the paper. The Telegraph’s total sale was provisionally put at 770,000.
The Mail on Sunday was one of the biggest winners – up 200,000 on its expected sale to 2.6 million. Circulation was up 350,00o on the previous week when the timing of England’s Sunday morning match led to a dip in sales.
Editor Peter Wright said: “We had a well-prepared package and we went for it, with rugby dominating the front page, which some of the other paper’s didn’t do. We felt the rugby would be the big one.
“It was a sporting victory that everybody could believe in and we wanted to be part of that. Everything about this team and the way they won this trophy, winning it in the last 20 seconds, was the sort of thing that people wanted to record.
“The Mail on Sunday always does well on these sorts of occasions – when it’s something people want to remember and buy the paper to keep and put to one side.”
The Sunday Times, which produced a World Cup supplement, was up 130,000 on its expected sales figure to a total of 1,460,000.
A spokesman for the News of the World said it also recorded a significant increase. Figures supplied by Express Newspapers suggest the timing of the game, with a 9am kick-off on Saturday, affected the circulation of the dailies.
The Daily Express was down 2 per cent on its expected figure on Saturday but the Sunday Express was up 7 per cent. The Daily Star was down 8 per cent on Saturday while the Daily Star Sunday was up 1 per cent.
RUGBY WORLD WAS PREPARED FOR GLORY
Rugby World magazine brought its deadlines forward this week and added 16 extra pages to cover England’s win in the World Cup, writes Ruth Addicott.
Editor Paul Morgan, who spent seven weeks covering the tournament in Australia, said the staff had been planning the issue for a year.
“We knew 12 months ago that England would do well and I couldn’t see any way they wouldn’t make the final. We tipped them to win it.”
Morgan said sales had exceeded all records in the past few months – more than 50,000 on four consecutive issues. The October issue was also well above the latest ABC of 37,000 with sales of 62,000.
“We haven’t sold that many in 10 years,” he said.
The print run for the January issue will increase by 20,000 and features interviews with Jonny Wilkinson’s Newcastle coach Rob Andrew, as well as Lawrence Dallaglio, Jason Leonard and Mike Tindall.
The euphoria over England’s lastgasp win wasn’t shared by the press north of the border. The Sunday Herald ran a headline, above, warning its more sensitive Scottish readers of England’s feat.
Scotland on Sunday ran England’s victory on its front page under the headline: “Jonny clinches World Cup for England… Get over it!” The news story began: “You might think it’s all over, but for many the nightmare has just begun.”
SoS columnist Raymond Travers complained about England being allowed to continue using the national anthem, saying: “It is the height of arrogance for God Save The Queen to be hijacked by one quarter of the UK.” Travers’ piece was headlined: “Long to drone over us, the band of little Englanders who have hijacked the British national anthem.”
And deputy editor Tom Little wrote in a comment piece that he “hated” England’s victory. “I really wanted England to lose, in a veins-in-the-forehead-bulging ‘come on Oz, don’t let these Sassenach scumbags win’ manner.”
By Dominic Ponsford