Belfast Telegraph

Brian O'Driscoll shows how a team captain should behave

By Peter Bills

He may not have married into the Royal family, but if ever a man demonstrated a regal presence on Saturday night it was Brian O'Driscoll in Auckland.

It wasn't just that Ireland's rugby captain led his men to an historic first-ever World Cup win over Australia.

It wasn't even the fact that he'd played well, once more the eyes and ears of the team and led them to a victory which, excitingly, threw open the whole World Cup draw.

What O'Driscoll managed to do to surpass even those mighty achievements was take the whole thing in his stride.

As thousands of Irish supporters went wild with joy at the end, streaming out to head for the bars of Auckland to celebrate the triumph, O'Driscoll showed everyone how a calm, measured captain ought to behave.

The Irishman's control was in stark contrast to that of England captain Mike Tindall a week earlier. Despite a performance against Argentina which stank out the whole of New Zealand, Tindall led his men to an absurdly over-the-top performance in a Dunedin bar, cavorting with a woman and doing it in front of astonished bystanders.

If ever a team gave a performance to justify a night out it was Ireland at Eden Park.

It was their most complete performance since they won the Grand Slam back in 2009 and in a technical sense among the forwards, was probably even better than that.

Yet, O'Driscoll greeted it with composure and control. He smiled: "Our supporters will enjoy tonight as much as we do ... and we will."

He then paid tribute to the passion and commitment of Ireland fans all over the world, delving into the realms of national pride to explain the phenomena.

"Irish people abroad hang on to their Irish-ness," he said.

"Perhaps even more so than those at home because it is an attachment to back home.

"We are a very proud nation; anywhere in the world you go, you always have fantastic support. That support gives you a spring in your step.

"When you are tired and struggling for a second and third wind, that cheer can be the boost you need."

No-one was going to deny O'Driscoll and his men a night out in New Zealand's biggest city.

But unless time proves otherwise, I doubt we will awake this morning or tomorrow morning to find seedy images of Brian O'Driscoll on a YouTube video, in the arms of another woman.

Like the England captain Mike Tindall, he is married but unlike Tindall, it is not his style. Nor is it the style of the Irish management to allow their players to go crazy in the manner of the English.

It was an object lesson to England as to how an international rugby captain should behave.

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