Brian O’Driscoll tells of New York arrest in new book

Extracts from ‘The Test - My Autobiography’ appeared in today’s Sunday Times

Brian O’Driscoll was arrested for assault in June 2008. The former Ireland captain writes in his autobiography, The Test - which was serialised in The Sunday Times today - that he spent 11 hours in a New York prison cell following a case of mistaken identity.

The incident occurred after an REM concert at Madison Square Garden when another man, O’Driscoll writes, charged at him and friend Damien O’Donohoe following an argument in a lift.

“Damo has just enough time to brace himself and shout at the guy, ‘Don’t ******* do this!! I’m warning you!

“He winds up a dig and launches it at Damo, who throws out an arm to protect himself. The guy runs straight into it and drops, like a new born lamb.”

O’Driscoll was followed from the arena after the altercation and pointed out to the police. He was subsequently handcuffed outside a bar, taken to Midtown South precinct and placed in a cell with around 30 other men.

After spending the night in custody, the Ireland captain was moved to a holding cell the next day and went before New York City criminal court where he pleaded not guilty to assault.

CCTV footage of the incident was not available due to a broken camera. The charges were dropped just before the 2009 Six Nations, seven months later.

The incident occurred a month after the suicide of his close friend Barry Twomey.

Grief-stricken, on his release O'Driscoll flew to Florida with friends, the former Ireland internationals Victor Costello and Denis Hickie.

During this period O’Driscoll also experienced his worst form on the field. He credits the work of sports psychologist Enda McNulty for the subsequent recovery, which saw Ireland capture the Grand Slam and Leinster the European Cup in 2009. He was top try scorer in both tournaments.

After losing the British and Irish Lions series in South Africa - O’Driscoll eventually came off in the second test with concussion - he led Ireland to an unbeaten year with victory over the Springboks that November.

Widely regarded as his best ever season, the IRB judges felt All Black captain Richie McCaw more deserving of the world player of the year award, a decision that O’Driscoll admitted to being disappointed about.

A week later his father, Frank O’Driscoll, wrote a letter to his son praising the dignity he showed in the face of what O’Driscoll senior felt was an insulting decision.

O’Driscoll also writes about losing his place on the British and Irish Lions team last year before the final test match in Sydney and reveals the truth about the try scoring celebrations in Paris way back in 2000.

An old friend, Oran Malone, aka the Big O, had asked for a hand signal. That’s all he was doing after scoring the first two tries in the famous victory; a gesture between friends.

* The Test - My Autobiography by Brian O’Driscoll with Alan English, published by Penguin Ireland (€22.50) will have its official launch in Dublin on Thursday

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