Please can everybody – including Brian O’Driscoll – stop going on about Brian O’Driscoll this Lions tour, pleads Jamie Wall.
The Lions tour of New Zealand is still a couple of weeks away, but we’re already getting kind of sick of hearing about one of the players – and he’s not even in the touring squad. It’s not so much Brian O’Driscoll himself, just the one thing that continually gets brought up every time his name gets mentioned in these parts.
There’s a lot of good stuff to remember about BOD. Like when he was a show-off at training:
Or this courageous effort when he stopped the floodgates from truly opening at Eden Park:
And this classic try, because it was against the Aussies back when they were good (believe it or not, many years ago this was true):
But we don’t hear about any of this. We don’t hear about how Brian O’Driscoll is the most capped and widely regarded as the best Irish player of all time. All we ever hear about is his goddamned shoulder and what Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu did to it at Lancaster Park in 2005.
Rugby is certainly a game that has a history of bringing up past grievances. In New Zealand people still debate whether Bob Deans scored a try against Wales in 1905. The Scots will probably be poking pins into Craig Joubert voodoo dolls till the end of time. Meanwhile, South Africans are convinced the Springboks would’ve won the first two World Cups – although I think we can all agree that not sending them an invite was pretty justifiable.
Brian O’Driscoll’s shoulder injury in the first test of the 2005 series is a little bit different, though. Had it never happened, it’s highly unlikely that his presence would’ve had any influence on the outcome of the game, series or subsequent tour legacy. The Lions were hopelessly outclassed in the test matches, despite getting off to a brilliant start in the second. The Dan Carter-led backlash showed that even O’Driscoll’s talents weren’t going to do anything other than perhaps delay the inevitable.
So the incident doesn’t even have any real merit as a turning point at all. But that’s not stopping the media, who are more than happy to regurgitate the same story whenever the All Blacks and Lions share the same column space. Yes, I’m definitely including the kiwi media in that too, who are just as quick to parry and riposte any allegations of wrongdoing.
This fixation just isn’t doing anyone any good. O’Driscoll is making himself look like a whingeing baby, a reputation that wasn’t helped by his outspoken views on getting dropped in the next Lions tour. Fast forward to Irish anger at the All Blacks’ perceived roughness during their win over the men in green in Dublin late last year, and it was all too easy for NZ fans to crown the Irish as sore losers – made easier by the fact that O’Driscoll had set that precedent.
As for the media, it’s just so damn lazy. If the hype is to be believed and this tour is the pinnacle of a lot of these players’ careers, surely there are better things to talk about than a ruck cleanout from 12 years ago?