FORMER IRELAND BACK, PRESENTER AND PUNDIT
Brian O’Driscoll is a former professional Rugby Union player who captained and played for Leinster, Ireland and The British & Irish Lions over a period of fifteen years.
Few men can touch his 141 caps, and only once – on his sixth appearance, against Romania – did Ireland’s most legendary player not start the match. He rarely left the field early either; on one occasion when he did, 55 minutes into a match against the All Blacks after a tackle on Brodie Retallick left him concussed, Ireland famously let slip a 22-10 lead.
By that stage of his career O’Driscoll lacked the out-and-out pace that had brought him so thrillingly to prominence. There had been the hat-trick that defeated France in Paris in 2000, and then a glorious try for the 2001 British & Irish Lions in Brisbane that sent the rapturous fans into choruses of Waltzing O’Driscoll.
Soon, the man whose first rugby experience had been as a tiny second row for the Willow Park U12 fourth team was captaining his country, at the age of 23. He was to perform that duty 83 times – only Richie McCaw and Sergio Parisse have led a country more often.
O’Driscoll’s 47 Test tries – a record for both a centre and an Irishman – are all the more remarkable for his astigmatism. The condition left him with only 50% of the average person’s unaided vision. He had laser treatment in 2009 but he’d played 100-odd Tests by then – just think how good he would have been with proper eyesight!
He retired from professional sport in 2014 and now works in a number of capacities in the business and sporting world.