The final chapter of Brian O’ Driscoll’s Ireland career will be written in the stadium where he made his announcement to the rugby world; the Stade de France, Paris. He has worn the green jersey 132 times to date, 83 as Irish captain, scoring 46 tries. He has played at four World Cups and won four Triple Crowns and a Grand Slam. But it is the searing outside breaks, the crunching tackles, the miracle passes and the utter commitment to the Irish cause for which O’ Driscoll will be best remembered.
Top Five Acts of BOD
5. Hat-trick Hero in Paris, v France 2000
It was the day Brian O’ Driscoll first created waves in the rugby world as his three tries helped Ireland to their first win in the French capital since 1972. The first two scores were set up by great teamwork but his third try was one of beauty as he scooped up the ball, exploded past French full back Emile Ntamack and touched down around the posts to set up Ireland for a famous win.
4. Waltzing O’ Driscoll, v Australia 2003
The showdown in Melbourne to win the pool at the World Cup was an epic encounter. The score was 14-6 to the hosts but O’ Driscoll brought Ireland back into the game with a try. He received a pass from John Kelly and danced down the touchline to beat Wendall Sailor and Elton Flatley to dot down at the corner.
3. Ireland’s Captain stands tall, v England 2009
A game where O’ Driscoll came in for special treatment by the English. Ireland’s captain received late and high hits from Riki Flutey and Delon Armitage. But Ireland’s number 13 kept getting back up and scored a decisive try along with a drop goal as Ireland completed the third leg of their Grand Slam.
2. O’ Driscoll and Ireland end 61 years of hurt, v Wales 2009
After a poor first half and trailing 6-0 Ireland were camped on the Welsh line. Following a number of phases, O’ Driscoll reached for glory and placed the ball on a blade of white grass bringing the Irish back into the game. Ireland eventually clung on to win 17-15 and end the wait for Ireland’s second Grand Slam. O’ Driscoll lifted the trophy to cap his finest hour in green.
The Record Breaker, v England 2011: A magnificent Irish performance as they smashed England 24-8 to deny the Red Rose a Grand Slam. But O’ Driscoll’s moment came in to second half as he picked the ball off his boot laces to slide in at the corner breaking Ian Smith’s 78 year old try record in the Six Nations Championship.
O’ Driscoll’s Italian job at the weekend showed us what we have all grown to adore and will miss when he finally hangs up his boots at the end of the season. On Saturday Irish rugby’s most iconic player pulls on the number 13 jersey for the last time and Irish fans will be hoping for one last moment of brilliance. Brian O’ Driscoll- ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann!
Pundit Arena, Matt Cassidy.