O'Driscoll getting ready to bow out


Rugby:Brian O’Driscoll, who was replaced as Ireland captain by number eight Jamie Heaslip this month, has confirmed this year’s Six Nations is likely to be his last.

The Leinster centre, Ireland's second most capped player behind Ronan O'Gara, has said “there's a strong possibility” this campaign will be his final fling after a 13 years playing in the tournament.

"There's every chance it's my last Six Nations but I haven't really allowed myself to start thinking about finishing,” he told the BBC. "If you start thinking about it too early, you're one foot into retirement already. I'm contracted [with the Irish Rugby Football Union] until the summer and I'll see how my body feels."

The 34-year-old has scored 45 tries in 120 appearances for Ireland, but has struggled with injuries in recent years. Since making his Six Nations debut in 2000, he has only missed 10 matches in the tournament, five of which were last year when he sat out the entire campaign with injury.

He has once again been named in the side to face Wales in the tournament’s opening fixture at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday and still harbours ambitions to captain the British and Irish Lions in Australia this summer.

O’Driscoll was captain in 2005 in New Zealand but a spear tackle seconds into the first Test ended his tour.

"It would be an honour that would be too big to pass up again," said O'Driscoll. “I got to do it once, albeit for only 25 seconds of a Test match, so it would be nice to get another opportunity. But first things first, I've got to get myself into a position to get myself on the tour and deserve my spot."

Ireland’s November Test matches will be broadcast live by Sky Sports for the first time from next year after the IRFU today announced a four-year deal with the broadcaster and RTÉ up to and including 2017.

Ireland’s autumn games, which often feature clashes against the likes of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, will remain on RTE, but the BBC will no longer have rights in Britain for next year.

The contract extension with RTÉ includes Ireland Wolfhounds games and Ireland Under-20 fixtures.

RTÉ already hold rights to the RBS 6 Nations Championship through a direct agreement with the tournament organisers, the Six Nations.

“Irish Rugby and RTE have a long-standing relationship, and we are delighted to be announcing this new agreement which will ensure that Ireland games continue to be seen on RTE channels over the next four years,” IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said. “The addition of Sky Sports as a partner also promises to be beneficial to the game in Ireland.

“Sky Sports has built a reputation as one of the top broadcasters of rugby over the last 10 years and are synonymous with the professional game at both European and international levels.

“The IRFU are delighted to be able to announce this partnership and believe that the quality of Sky Sports coverage of our November internationals will be a wonderful platform for Irish rugby.”

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