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Brian Gerald O'Driscoll (Irish name: Brian Gearóid Ó hEidirsceoil ; born 21 January 1979) is an Irish professional rugby union player. He is the current captain of the Irish national team and captained Leinster Rugby until the start of 2008 season. He also captained the British and Irish Lions for their 2005 tour of New Zealand. In 2001 and 2002, he was nominated for IRB World Player of the Year, but lost out to Irish teammate Keith Wood and Frenchman Fabien Galthié respectively, making O'Driscoll the first player to be nominated for the award two years in a row. Registered at University College Dublin RFC, he plays at outside for the Irish provincial team Leinster. He was chosen as Player of the Tournament in the 2006, 2007 & 2009 RBS Six Nations Championships. He went to Blackrock Collegemarker where he played in the Senior Cup team.

O'Driscoll has 101 test caps, 95 for Ireland, 55 as captain, and six for the British and Irish Lions, during this time he has scored 38 tries for Ireland and 1 try for the lions in 2001, making him the highest try scorer of all time in Irish Rugby. He is joint 11th-highest try scorer in Rugby Union history, and the highest scoring centre of all time. He holds the Irish Six Nations record for most tries scored with 21. He has scored the most Heineken Cup tries (25) for an Irishman.

In 2007, former England centre and captain Will Carling published his list of the '50 Greatest Rugby players' in The Telegraph, and ranked O'Driscoll the tenth greatest player of all time, stating; "As a balanced centre he has everything - pace, strength, great attacking skill and is as good in defence as attack. On the 2001 Lions tour, he showed his outstanding talent as the stand out back in the series. He has the ability to prise open defences that other players cannot even contemplate. With his poise, his change of speed and his closeness to the ground it is very hard to stop him. Ireland are half the side without him". In summer 2008 O'Driscoll was named Dubliner of The Year by The Dubliner magazine.

Early life

O'Driscoll was born in Clontarf on Dublin's Northside, and was educated at Blackrock Collegemarker from which he was capped three times for Ireland Schools in 1996. In 1998, O'Driscoll played for the Ireland U-19 side, which also included his senior teammates Donncha O'Callaghan and Paddy Wallace, which won the Under 19 Rugby World Championship. After leaving school, he attended UCDmarker on a scholarship. At UCD, under the respected director of John McClean, he first made the under-20 side, before being promoted to the top team near the end of his first year. After two years, O'Driscoll graduated from UCD with a diploma in sports management. He made his under-21 debut in February 1999, and eventually gained four caps.

Leinster

O'Driscoll made his debut for Leinster in 1999. Under head coach Matt Williams and backs coach Alan Gaffney he became an explosive force in the Leinster backline. In 2001, Leinster won the inaugural Celtic League beating Munster in Lansdowne Roadmarker. In 2003 Leinster were heavy favourites for that years Heineken Cup after coming through their group unbeaten and with the final being in Dublinmarker. Ultimately, however, Leinster would fall short. After defeating Biarritz in Dublin, Leinster would crash out to Perpignan in the semi finals.

Following the semi final defeat, Leinster underwent instability in the coaching set up. Gaffney left for the head coaching job in Munster whilst Williams became the Scottish national coach. In 2004, Leinster failed to make the knock out stages of the competition with new head coach Gary Ella and following the season Ella would leave the post. Declan Kidney, former Munster coach came into the job in 2005 which once again prove to be demorialising for Leinster. A heavy home quarter final defeat to Leicester Tigers was followed by the departure of Kidney back to Munster.

Leinster appointed Michael Cheika in the summer of 2006 and despite rumours of O'Driscoll moving to France he agreed to another year in Ireland. That year, O'Driscoll returning from a horrific shoulder injury suffered on the Lions, would assume the captaincy for the season. Under backs coach David Knox and the movement of Argentinemarker international Felipe Contepomi to fly half, the Leinster back line would be one of the most potent in Europe, complete with many notable international players. With centre partner Gordon D'Arcy, wings Denis Hickie and Shane Horgan along with full back Girvan Dempsey the backline would put in stunning performances in the Magners League and in Europe. Notable wins which O'Driscoll excelled in over Bath Rugby and Toulouse away from home would set up an All Ireland semi final in Lansdowne Road against Munster. Defeat against the eventual champions Munster, however, would once again deny O'Driscoll and his team a final berth. Leinster would also be denied a Magners League title on the final day with David Humphreys of Ulster slotting an injury time drop goal in Ulster's final game of the season, denying Leinster a second title.

2007 and 2008 would once again prove difficult in Europe, once again defeat to the eventual champions in 2007, this time to Wasps in the quarter finals. In 2008, Leinster would be dumped out in the group stages. Indifferent Heineken Cup form, however, was not replicated in the league. In 2007, Leinster would once again come to the final hurdle of the league only to be denied by the Ospreys and Cardiffmarker. In 2008 though Leinster would cruise to the title ahead of Munster, marking O'Driscoll's second honour with the province, his first and only as captain.

The 2008-2009 would mark a shift in focus for O'Driscoll. Despite retaining the Irish captaincy under new coach Declan Kidney, he would hand the honour of Leinster captain to Leo Cullen. Leinster began with inconsistent league form and in Europe. A sublime home demolishing of English champions London Waspsmarker in which O'Driscoll scored two tries was followed by away defeats to both London Wasps and Castresmarker. Leinster would advance to the quarter finals despite this to face Harlequins in the Twickenham Stoopmarker. Before this though, Leinster would relinquish their Magners League crown to Munster which was effectively lost in April 2009 at Thomond Parkmarker when he was absent through injury. Against Harlequins, Leinster would muscle their way to a 6-5 victory. The victory was notable in that Leinster's other notable European wins relied on backline flair whilst in this game the defence was key. O'Driscoll (who the previous summer shed one stone of weight) was to the fore in defence, which had always been a strong area of his game, but reached new heights in 2009.

The semi final would be a "re-match" against rivals Munster in Croke Parkmarker, a 82,206 sell out, a world record club attendance. On the day Leinster almost completely reversed the scoreline in 2006 of 30-6, defeating them 25-6. O'Driscoll was awarded the man of the match award (which he later dedicated to the entire team) after an intercept try completed a convincing win for Leinster and sending O'Driscoll to his first final.Leinster would capture European glory against a team who had previously defeated them in the knockout stages, Leicester Tigers on May 23 2009. The 19-16 Heineken Cup victory included a drop goal from O'Driscoll who was suffering from a shoulder injury. In his post match interview, a delighted O'Driscoll paid tribute to former Leinster team mates who shared his journey, but were not present in the current squad.

Rugby international

Ireland

In 1999, O'Driscoll was selected for the senior squad and was on the bench for a match against Italy(this was not a Six Nations match as Italy did not enter the competition until the following year), although he did not play. He was selected for the tour of Australia during which he won his first Test cap at age 20 on 12 June 1999 in a 46-10 loss to Australia in Brisbanemarker. Since that day, he has established himself as one of rugby's top outside centres. It is noted that O'Driscoll played for Ireland before he played for the senior Leinster team. Early in his Irish career, in 2000 he memorably scored a Hat-trick of tries in a Six Nations Championship victory against Francemarker in Parismarker — the last time Ireland achieved victory in Paris in 1972, O'Driscoll hadn't even been born.

O'Driscoll became so popular in Ireland that many supporters donned T-shirts bearing the motto "In BOD We Trust" (a play on "In God We Trust", the phrase that appears on all United States currency and coinage). In 2002, O'Driscoll starred in Irelands 18-9 win over Australia, the first Irish victory over the Wallabies since 1979. In 2003, following the international retirement of long-time Ireland captain Keith Wood, he was awarded the captaincy. In that year O'Driscoll led Ireland to second place in the Six Nations Championship. This was followed by Triple Crowns in 2004, 2006 and 2007, with the 2004 success being Ireland's first crown since 1985. In 2004 O'Driscoll notably captained Ireland to a 17-12 victory over South Africa, the first Irish win over the Springboks since 1965.

O'Driscoll has played in the last three World Cups (13 caps). In 2009, O'Driscoll was again selected as captain, leading Ireland to win the Triple Crown, Six Nations Championship and their first Grand Slam in 61 years. He scored a try in every match except one, culminating in a nail-biting final match, a 17-15 victory in Cardiff in which O'Driscoll again scored a try and was the RBS man of the match. On March 27 he was named as player of the 2009 Six Nations Championship. O'Driscoll won a fans' online poll ahead of runner-up, Italy back-row Sergio Parisse, and Ireland lock Paul O'Connell who came third. In May 2009 he was named the Bord Gáis Energy IRUPA Players' Player of the Year for the past season.On 15 November 2009, O'Driscoll scored a last minute try against Australia to help Ireland get a 20-20 draw in Croke Parkmarker. The day after he was named as one of the seven nominations for the 2009 International Rugby Board player of the year.

British and Irish Lions

Brian O'Driscoll appeared in all three British and Irish Lions Tests on the team's 2001 tour of Australia where he announced himself as a world star with his now legendary try in the first test. On 11 April 2005, he was named captain of the team for their 2005 tour of New Zealand. Prior to that tour he had been named captain of the Northern Hemisphere side for the IRB Rugby Aid Match (a 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamimarker fundraiser) held at Twickenhammarker in March 2005, but was forced to withdraw due to a shoulder injury; however, he did appear at pitchside for the match.

O'Driscoll's playing contribution to the 2005 Lions ended in the opening minutes of the first Test against the All Blacks in Christchurchmarker on 25 June 2005, when he was carried off the field on a stretcher with a shoulder injury just after the ball had left a ruck he was defending. Tana Umaga (captain of the All Blacks) and Keven Mealamu had together lifted O'Driscoll at the ruck and he was driven head first toward the ground, a manoeuvre known as a Spear tackle, illegal in all grades of rugby and considered highly dangerous. He extended one arm to protect his head, and his shoulder was dislocated on impact.

The independent citing commissioner found that the New Zealand players had no case to answer. However, following new footage, International Rugby Board's communications manager Greg Thomas stated ...that dangerous tackles like this have no part in the game. The Lions management were heavily criticised by New Zealanders for attempting to divert attention from their terrible performance. Although unable to play, O'Driscoll remained as non-playing captain on a losing tour and only underwent surgery on his return. He then released a DVD entitled Brian O'Driscoll's Lions Diary in which he described his tour experience and his opinion of the events that transpired.

On 21 April 2009, O'Driscoll was selected as part of the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa. On the 1st June 2009 he was named as captain of the Lions for the game against the Golden Lions taking place on the 3rd June, in place of the rested Paul O'Connell. This was the first time he has captained the Lions since the spear tackle incident in New Zealand in 2005. He was also named in the outside centre position for the Lions in their first test of the 2009 tour against South Africa, in which he made two assists as the Lions lost 26 - 21. He was forced to withdraw from the tour on 30 June before the third and final test due to a head injury and subsequent concussion he suffered in the second test.

Injury comeback

In September 2005, as O'Driscoll was said to be preparing to leave Irish provincial rugby and agree to a contract to play in France, the IRFU quickly announced they would do all they could to keep him in Ireland. O'Driscoll subsequently signed a deal with the IRFU to keep him at Leinster through the 2007 World Cup. O'Driscoll made his playing comeback for Leinster in December 2005. In January 2006, he helped Leinster beat Bath to qualify for the quarter-finals of the 2005-6 Heineken Cup. On the 1st of April 2006, O'Driscoll was instrumental in leading Leinster to victory over Toulouse; reaching the Heineken Cup semi-final.As of February 3, 2009, O'Driscoll has played 57 times for Leinster in the Heineken Cup, scoring 120 points, including 24 tries (behind record holder Dafydd James' 29 tries & tying with Shane Horgan for lead Irishman).On May 23, 2009, O'Driscoll was on the Leinster team which beat Leicester 19-16 in the Heineken Cup final in Murrayfield to claim the trophy for the first time.

Personal life

O'Driscoll is a keen fan of both Manchester United and the Dublin Gaelic football team, attending their matches at Croke Parkmarker.O'Driscoll is currently engaged to Amy Huberman, an actress currently starring in the RTÉmarker production of The Clinic.

He is also the cousin of Arsenal F.C. club doctor Dr. Gary O'Driscoll. He has published one book, "A Year in the Centre" (2005), a memoir of a year as professional rugby player.

A biography of O'Driscoll, called In BOD We Trust, by Marcus Stead was published in March 2008, with a new, paperback version published in May 2009 telling the story of Ireland's Grand Slam victory.

Honours









Bibliography

A Year in the Centre, 2005, Dublin, Penguin Books, Ltd ISBN 1844880788

See also



References

  1. http://www.setanta.com/uk/Articles/other-sports/2009/04/17/Rugby-Lions-Squad-Brian-ODriscoll/gnid-49112/
  2. "Brian O'Driscoll: The Biography of Ireland's Greatest Rugby Hero", by Marcus Stead
  3. http://www.penguincatalogue.co.uk/lo/general/title.html?catalogueId=11&imprintId=67&titleId=1349


External links







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