Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland. World Cups Played In – 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011
Ah, the hero of the Emerald Isles. O'Driscoll is one of the greats of the game, and the only Irishman to make the legends of the World Cup list.
A one club man, BOD stuck with Leinster for his entire professional career, which ended last year. He debuted in a full Ireland shirt in 1999, aged 20 against Australia, before he’d even played for the senior Leinster team.
He was part of the team which took Ireland to their fourth consecutive quarter-final. To date, Ireland have never passed this phase of the tournament.
During the pool stages of 1999, O’Driscoll scored a try in the 53-8 victory over the USA, and a drop goal against Romania (44-14), before the 28-24 defeat against Argentina ended their progression to the semi-finals.
In 2003, he scored a valiant try and drop goal against Australia in the final pool fixture, but ultimately, the hosts were too much for the Irishmen. They instead went to battle France in the quarter finals, where O'Driscoll scored two tries, including a last minute score which gave a respectable air to the scoreline.
The 2007 pool stages were as far as Ireland could go, given they had Argentina and France as their major rivals. In 2011, O’Driscoll led Ireland to their highest placing ever, seeing them progress from their pool with four wins from four, with O'Driscoll scoring in their last game against Italy.
Once again though, the quarter-finals proved to be a step too far for the Irish, as Wales defeated them 22-10. O’Driscoll featured in four British and Irish Lions tours, spanning from 2001 to 2013, where Warren Gatland controversially dropped him from the final test. He captained two tours and has played three times for the Barbarians.