Brian O’Driscoll’s rugby CV is as exciting as reading a Tom Clancy novel! His career seems almost unreal. He was almost single-handedly responsible for changing the course of Irish rugby.
If one considers his list of accomplishments and stats, it quickly becomes apparent why he is considered by many as one of, if not the most, impressive player in Irish and World Rugby history.
He was born in Dublin on 21 January 1979 and his career includes the following impressive achievements:
– He was the 4th most capped player in Union with 141 tests; 133 for Ireland (83 as captain) and 8 for the Lions. 46 tries for Ireland and 1 for The Lions made him the highest Irish try scorer.
– He was the 8th-highest overall try-scorer and the highest-scoring center of all time (yes, read that again!). He also scored the most Six Nations tries (26) and to add to his long list of accolades, he also holds the record for the most Heineken Cup tries scored by an Irish player (30).
– He was awarded the Six Nations Player of the Tournament in 2006, 2007, and 2009.
– During his High School days at Blackrock College, he was capped three times for the Ireland Schools tournament. In 1998 O’Driscoll was selected for the U19 Ireland team which won the U19 Rugby World Championship. In 1999 he made his U21 Ireland Debut.
Brian’s club career spanned an impressive 15 years, from 1999 until 2014, a tall order for a professional rugby player. Some of the key moments, achievements, and top performances include:
– A debut match for Leinster in 1999, followed by an impressive win in the Celtic League two years later in 2001.
– O’Driscoll captained the Leinster from 2005 until 2008. In 2008 Leinster won the Magners League (now URC).
– In 2009 O’Driscoll scored an intercept try and was awarded Man of the Match in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup. In the final, they won 19-16, with O’Driscoll scoring a drop goal in that game while playing with a shoulder injury.
– In 2011 O’Driscoll won his 2nd Heineken Cup, after suffering a knee injury the week prior, he helped his team come back from behind to win against Northampton with a final score of 33-22.
– In 2012, now a regular player in the Heineken Cup, he collected the Cup for a 3rd time.
– O’Driscoll played his final game for Leinster on 31 May 2014, in the 2014 Pro12 Grand Final at Leinster’s home ground. Unfortunately, O’Driscoll was injured and substituted early in the first half, however, Leinster won the game 34-12 and Brian’s final heroic act was helping the club captain lift one last trophy in front of his home crowd!
– O’Driscoll ended his club career for Leinster and amassed an insane 186 caps, scoring 311 points.
O’Driscoll’s late start in rugby didn’t keep him from stepping into the test arena and professional rugby at an early age. It wasn’t long before he habitually started stacking the stats in the typical O’Driscoll style we had all come to know and appreciate!
His continued greatness has been captured in the following summary of his rugby stats:
– He played his test debut at age 20, on 12 June 1999, against Australia. Interestingly Brian played for Ireland before he played for the senior Leinster team.
– In 2000 an O’Driscoll hat trick gave Ireland their first win in Paris since 1972. Fans soon started wearing started wearing “In BOD we Trust” t-shirts.
– In 2002 O’Driscoll was handed the captaincy of Ireland for the first time, against Australia, and they won 18-9. this was the first Irish victory against them since 1979, ironically the same year O’Driscoll was born. At age 24, O’Driscoll was handed permanent captaincy in 2003.
– Under O’Driscoll’s captaincy Ireland won the Triple Crowns in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, the first time since 1985. In 2004 he led Ireland to a 17-12 victory over South Africa, again an impressive “first”, this time since 1965.
– In 2009 Ireland won the Triple Crown and the Six Nations. The Six Nations’ victory was a Grand Slam (one team beating all the other teams), 61 years in the wait. O’Driscoll scored a try in every match except one and won the last game 17-15, where O’Driscoll also scored.
– On 15 November 2009, O’Driscoll scored a last-minute try against Australia, the match ended in a 20-20 draw.
– In 2009, he was runner-up, IRB Player of the Year after losing against Richie McCaw by one point, an award O’Driscoll won in 2001.
– On 8 March 2014 in this last international test on home ground, he contributed to 3 tries to secure an Irish victory over Italy. When he retired he was the most capped international player (141 caps).
-Brian O’Driscoll played his last international match against France, in Paris, for the 2014 Six Nations Championship, beating France in Paris for only the second time in 42 years. In an emotional post-match speech, O’Driscoll said that he could not have wished for a better ending.
BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS
One cannot give an honest review of O’Driscoll’s career without also touching on his outstanding achievements for the British and Irish Lions teams. Here, again, Brian silenced any critiques, if there ever were any, with a plethora of achievements:
– He played in all 3 games in the 2001 Australian tour, scoring an outstanding individual try in the Lions’s first victory.
– He was named captain in the 2005 tour of New Zealand but unfortunately got injured in the opening minutes of the first test. He remained on as a non-playing captain, and only received surgery after returning to Ireland.
– In 2009 he captained the Lions against the Golden Lions.
– He assisted 2 tries against the first test against South Africa but had to withdraw early due to a concussion suffered in the second test.
– In 2013 O’Driscoll was called up for his fourth British and Irish Lions tour, the third player to achieve this in 125 years!
– O’Driscoll was also selected to play for The Barbarians 3 times while scoring once.
Brian O’Driscoll’s list of rugby achievements is too many to mention in one blog post. The above list is a list that emphasizes some of his career highlights. He remains to be one of the most prestigious and decorated rugby players of all time and single-handedly placed Ireland on the world rugby map forever.
Brian O’Driscoll has been involved in various activities after his retirement from professional rugby. He has worked as a rugby pundit, providing analysis and commentary for television broadcasts. O’Driscoll has also been involved in business ventures, including ambassadorial roles and endorsements for various brands. To this day he remains to be an Irish legend and loved by many, including his opponents of yester years!