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Brian O’Driscoll reveals a young Bryan Habana refused to swap jerseys with him

Brian O'Driscoll Bryan Habana

Brian O’Driscoll has revealed that Springboks legend Bryan Habana refused to swap jerseys with him after a test match in 2006.

Ireland beat South Africa for just the third time ever when the two played at Lansdowne Road in 2006, as Eddie O’Sullivan’s men ran out as comfortable 32-15 winners against the Springboks.

O’Driscoll suffered a loss of sorts after the game however, as he revealed to BT Sport that a 23-year-old Habana sent the Ireland legend away from the Springboks’ dressing room empty-handed after refusing to swap jerseys.

Brian O’Driscoll: ‘He put me rightly back in my box.’

“In 2006 they played us here. It was a centenary year I think for South Africa, so they were playing in a special jersey against us. We played 13 against one another, his first time playing 13, might have been his last,” O’Driscoll said.

“Anyway, we won the game and I thought I would do the right thing, a young up and coming player, I’ll go into the dressing room and I’ll swap jerseys.

“I said goodbye to my teammates, said I’d just go in and swap this jersey. He said ‘Sorry, this is the centenary jersey, it’s kind of special’. So I was like ‘You don’t want to swap?’

“He said ‘No thanks, you’re alright’. So I went with my tail between my legs back to our dressing room and the lads were like ‘Where’s his jersey, how come you’ve still got your one on?’ He put me rightly back in my box.”


Bryan Habana on writing an essay about Brian O’Driscoll.

While Habana decided not to swap his jersey with O’Driscoll that day, he clearly does have respect for the former Ireland and British and Irish Lions centre.

O’Driscoll is less than four years older than the Springboks legend, but the Irishman was already well established on the international stage before Habana first won a test cap for South Africa in 2004.

In fact, the former South Africa winger actually chose to write an essay on O’Driscoll when he was in university, although he has no intentions of reading that essay to the Irishman.

“I started off as a scrum-half, half the size of Peter Stringer currently and not even close to half as ripped,” Habana told BT Sport.

“I actually made the switch over to centre because of a junior-level coach and he made me do an essay synopsis on centre play and said that I actually had to do it on a player in particular.

“So in 2003, I actually did an essay on the great Brian O’Driscoll because we just had the Lions tour, we just had a lot of things.

“It was very average. I wasn’t a bad student but no he hasn’t seen the essay. I can’t even remember what I wrote.”

When BT Sport host Craig Doyle asked Habana to read it to O’Driscoll, the former South African international was very clear with his answer.

“Please don’t. I’m already feeling bad that I didn’t swap my jersey in 2006. You can’t make me do that to him now as well.”

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