Brian O’Driscoll got the fairytale farewell Ireland fans had hoped for as the team he represented 133 times beat France 22-20 in Paris on Saturday to claim the 2014 Six Nations. Ireland’s superior points difference proved crucial on the final weekend.
England fans wore blue on Saturday evening as they came within inches of claiming the title, only to have a French try-scoring pass ruled out for being forward. A France victory would have handed them the title, instead Ireland’s impressive points tally made all the difference in the end.
O’Driscoll, now 35-years-old and having achieved all there is to achieve in the Northen Hemisphere (plus a Lions tour victory), bows out of the game a year before the Rugby World Cup.
“I don’t want to take it off, because I know when I do, it will be for the last time,” he said of the famous number 13 Ireland jersey that he’s owned for the best part of fifteen years.
“It’s a sheer delight to have won the championship. I have had a lot of good memories from the times between winning here 14 years ago and now, but to finish like this is incredibly special.
“Not many get the chance to end their careers on their own terms. I am just thankful to have been part of a great team who have massive potential to become even better,” O’Driscoll added.
“I tried to channel my emotions into my performance. I couldn’t let the occasion get the better of me. I think I played fair today – I did think I might get in for a try, but I had to come inside as I knew I didn’t have the gas to burn on the outside.
“At the end, I did have a frog in my throat, there was a fair bit of emotion. There were some great emotions in the dressing room – and I wouldn’t bet against a few tears later on after a lot of beers!”
French coach Phillipe Saint-Andre, who appeared to question if that final pass was actually forward or not, paid tribute to O’Driscoll and said that next year France might have that extra bit of luck.
“Next year Brian O’Driscoll will not be here and maybe we will have the God of rugby on our side.”
Congratulations to Ireland and O’Driscoll. Below are official extended highlights from the match.