Number 13, Unlucky For Some!
This season will see the retirement of perhaps the best rugby player in modern rugby history. Yes, that amazing no 13 that is Brian O'Driscoll. Who knew that when Brian was born in January 1979 that he would become arguably one of the best centres of all time. Brian was born in Dublin, to Frank and Geraldine O'Driscoll. Both doctors his family were steeped in rugby. Frank played two games for Ireland and his uncle Barry played four. Another uncle, John, represented Ireland twenty six times and was a member of the Lions side in '80 and '83, touring South Africa and New Zealand respectively. He played GAA as a child, going on to Blackrock College where he played rugby for the senior team.
It has been my pleasure to meet Brian on a number of occasions. He is always smiling and happy to shake hands, chat and sign any number of match day programs and rugby jerseys. He is always very down to earth, and actually seems to enjoy meeting supporters. For someone of his stature in rugby to not forget about the fans and the people who have supported him week in week out is a mark of the man.
On the pitch too, his presence is always felt. I've often heard him question referees decisions, always being polite, always being respectful. He still calls them "sir" which is very refreshing in this age where respect is at a minimum. He brings a certain class and drive to the team, whether that's on a national level or international. The difference he makes to the team is phenomenal. With him in the team Leinster have won 2 Heineken cups, the most memorable for me being
in the 2010-2011 season inThe Millenium Stadium in Wales. He had been injured in a league game the week before and was a major doubt.He recovered enough to be named in the starting fifteen and Leinster came from behind to defeat Northampton and lift the cup. It was magnificent.
His international career speaks for itself. Memorably the victory over Australia in 2002, the first since 1979. The triple crowns in 2004, 2006,2007 and victory over the Springboks in 2004 their first since 1965. He has always been very popular with us fans, coining the phrase 'In BOD we trust' and being voted the people's favourite in 2009 championship by fans. I could go on and on about his career and the many milestones he has achieved including the many records he has broken; His 100th cap against Wales, his record breaking tries tally, his 140th international cap and everything in between, but for me the most poignant was on 15th March this year when we won the six nations in France. The post match interview saw a very emotional O'Driscoll saying that he couldn't have hoped for a better end to his international career.
So I want to take this opportunity to simply say thank you Brian. Thank you for the dedication and skills you have brought to the rugby world. You are the stuff legends are made of and I doubt we will see your like again. Enjoy your retirement, spend lots of time with your family, because I reckon after all this you deserve it.