Brian O’Driscoll plays well in the West End too

Real drama will be in the Green room as we actors click on iPlayer for the Paris matinee

Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 09:00

Apart from O’Driscoll there were other moments to savour, such as a prostrate Paul O’Connell being propositioned by Marco Bortolami.

The pushing, pulling, grappling and grabbing ended with the duo rolling around in a bizarre-looking “late night” cable TV wrestle, until Nigel Owens blew his whistle, presumably out of embarrassment for them.

Their scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi was the one Owens penalised for grabbing O’Connell around the neck, the number nine’s face grimacing with the strain of trying to make an impact on Ireland’s captain, who reacted like he was flicking away a mildly irritating gnat.

France are a very different proposition, with their monstrous pack, including the returning horse Louis Picamoles and their nippy outside backs, but mainly because of their unpredictable mental approach, which is, well, balloobas!

And while they might be stuttering and stalling in this Championship, they always seem to play their best rugby against Ireland in Paris.

However this is a different Ireland, with a solid set-piece, a weapon of a maul, the better half-backs and perhaps most crucially of all, they believe they can do it.

Can Ireland get this monkey off their back? Can they deliver and justify going to Paris as favourites (a first in my memory)?

Of course Ireland will be focused and will be prepared to play the match and not the occasion, but winning this one would go some way towards mending the heartbreak of losing to New Zealand.

No doubt they’ll put us through the ringer; there’ll be moments when we can barely watch. Indeed the theatre might well be the most appropriate place to watch.

And then we’ll say au revoir to a legend. Again!

It’s not easy saying goodbye to the man who, more than anyone else embodies a great generation of Irish players and a large dollop of sadness hangs over this weekend.

No question either O’Driscoll lives with the best there’s ever been and what joy it has been to witness. The hat-trick in Paris, that try for the Lions and the ’09 Grand Slam are the big ones, but it’s his talent, vision, anticipation, ability to create opportunities from nothing (mainly now for others), the moments of improvised magic you won’t find in any coaching manual and his extraordinary courage that set him apart. Yes, we’ll miss his magic alright, and another win in Paris is the only fitting end.

The real question is, what in hell are we going to do without him?

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