Brian O’Driscoll expressed his joy after ending his international career by helping Ireland to glory in the RBS 6 Nations with a 22-20 victory over France in Paris on Saturday evening.
Ireland were left hanging on at the end and were grateful when Damien Chouly’s last-gasp try was cancelled out for a forward pass by Vincent Debaty to ensure O’Driscoll was given the fairytale ending with a second Six Nations crown.
“It feels great to be a two-time Six Nations winner. It’s great to finish on a high in my last game in this magnificent jersey,” the 35-year-old centre told BBC1.
“When I do hang it up on the hook inside, it’ll be with very fond memories.”
“I’m absolutely delighted. There’s a huge Irish contingent here. I’m glad we gave them something to shout about.”
Needing just a win to ensure their first Six Nations title since 2009, Ireland went 12-6 ahead after tries from Johnny Sexton and Andrew Trimble, although they trailed 13-12 at the break following Brice Dulin’s try, which was converted by Maxime Machenaud, who had earlier scored two penalties.
Ireland went ahead again following Sexton’s second try of the evening, but France narrowed the deficit to two points when hooker Dimitri Szarzewski bundled in.
Their nerves were tested when Chouly crossed late on, only for his effort to be chalked off to hand Ireland glory.
“It was last-leg stuff and I know now why I’m packing it in because 80 minutes is a long bloody time at international level, particularly with guys like Mathieu Bastereaud running at you – it’s no fun,” O’Driscoll added.
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was delighted he and his team could give O'Driscoll the perfect send-off.
“It’s fantastic for Ireland, for the people back home but also for Brian and his family,” he said after leading Ireland to just a second win in 42 years in Paris.
“To be part of the team that laid the platform for him to have a great finish to his career is great for everyone involved.”
France coach Phillipe Saint-Andre admitted his devastation after watching his side fall short.
“Sometimes it’s better to win ugly than to have lost like this,” he said.
“Congratulations to Ireland, they played well but I think our young team did very well. If we had a little bit more of the control we should have won.”