O'Driscoll the great has Irish believing in BOD

You do not have to be Irish to appreciate greatness in green. When Brian O'Driscoll crossed the line for Ireland's second try he eclipsed a record established 78 years ago by Ian Smith, the "Flying Scot", for the number of tries scored in the Five or Six Nations' Championship. That O'Driscoll has taken rather longer to achieve it than Smith is neither here nor there.

O'Driscoll, 32 and in his 112th Test (all but one of which he has started), has been an adornment of the modern era. Smith played in 32 games between 1924 and 1933, a career of considerable longevity for those days, and scored 24 tries; O'Driscoll made his Ireland debut in 1999 and now has 25 (and 44 in all internationals) as well as the respect of both hemispheres and the captaincy of his country and the Lions.

He has been a lodestar for Ireland, in bad times as well as good, and if Matt Banahan, who may become a regular in the England centre, remembers anything of yesterday it should be that he played against one of the greats.

There is a phrase beloved of coaches, that their side tried to play too much rugby. England tried to do that, displayed their naivety, and within a half-hour were 14 points down. The definitive figures were in green – Jonathan Sexton, Tommy Bowe, Sean O'Brien – and at their backs they could call on so much experience. Twice as much as England, in fact. Throughout this Six Nations England have been the least experienced of teams, even more so here for the absence of their injured captain, Mike Tindall. When England last won in Dublin, in 2003, they had been there and done itand Tindall was a young man surrounded by quality.

Here, England tried to play without putting building blocks in place and Ireland preyed on every error. Declan Kidney and his coaching staff, much criticised in their own land for a lacklustre return this season, had noted England's perceived strengths at scrum time, at half-back, in the back three, and then blunted each of them. At the first scrum, Ireland forced a penalty. They created blind alleys for Ben Youngs to run up and, as it turned out, towards a yellow card.

If there was a wandering wing to be seen, the role for which Chris Ashton has been so widely praised, it was Bowe. The Osprey came into this match with 38 caps, together with experience of a Grand Slam and a Lions tour the same year, 2009. Ashton, winning his 11th cap, has none of these things; he is a player of considerable promise but he is, like his team, a work in progress.

Ireland's mood coming into the game was grim. Kidney coached them to that Slam, then to second place last year, and now the best they could hope for was third, reviving memories of 2007, when their preparation for the World Cup fell further apart the nearer the global tournament came. Aside from that has been the issue over the No 10 jersey and whether Sexton, the younger man, should start ahead of the veteran Ronan O'Gara.

Ireland have been here before, of course, with O'Gara and David Humphreys and with Ollie Campbell and Tony Ward in the 1970s. Nor did Sexton have the greatest of games in Cardiff eight days ago, when he replaced O'Gara. But yesterday evening he put all that behind him. When England were at their most vulnerable, early in the game, his tactical kicking was everything that even O'Gara would have wanted; he kicked his goals and his was the quickly-taken tapped penalty that created the first try, for Bowe.

When, with 10 minutes left, O'Gara replaced Sexton to hammer down the remaining coffin nails, the Leinster man was given a resounding farewell by the crowd and acclaimed man of the match. They knew the game was won and the role Sexton had played.

O'Driscoll will take Ireland to the World Cup in New Zealand in September with greater optimism than before.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power