It was inevitable that conversation surrounding the infamous Brian O’Driscoll incident from the 2005 British & Irish Lions Tour would rear its head in the coming weeks.
Over the last few days, many people have been discussing the comments made by Kevan Mealamu who was one of the players, along with Tana Umaga, who ended O’Driscoll’s season with that dangerous spear tackle.
O’Driscoll suffered a dislocated shoulder from the challenge and the rest, as they say, is history. However, the incident has always been a sticking point from a northern hemisphere rugby perspective considering there was never really an apology over the tackle.
Mealamu stopped short of apologising during the week and he had this to say: “I just thought it was a typical rugby movement till I realised Tana was on the side and we had tipped him up and he had landed on his shoulder.”
Graham Henry who was the All Blacks coach during the time of the 2005 Tour, told Fairfax Media that the tackle was totally accidental and was just one of things which are outside your control.
“Everybody was sad about (what happened) but those things are outside of your control. You’ve just got to move on and concentrate on the next game.”
No one was expecting the All Blacks to dwell on the incident, like the Lions did, which was one of the many reasons for their downfall during that Tour but Henry believes that Mealamu and Umaga handled the situation quite well.
“The guys had respect for Brian and they didn’t want that to happen. I think they handled it pretty well.”
Perhaps the handling of the situation meant not to offer a public apology at the time – it seemed to work anyway as the All Blacks went on their way to a facile whitewash of the Lions that year.