Rugby heaven for BOD as he bows out on top
Ireland's centre Brian O'Driscoll (L) stands next to his team's trophy after winning the Six Nations rugby union title on March 15, 2014 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris - by Franck Fife
The 35-year-old -- who holds the world record for caps with 142 -- could not have found a more fitting stage to bow out on for it was at the Stade de France in 2000 where he announced his enormous talent with a hat-trick of tries in what was Ireland's only previous victory in Paris in 42 years.
The Leinster centre, known affectionately in Ireland as 'BOD' and whose biography was titled 'In BOD we trust', may not have added to his 47 Test tries -- including a record 26 in the Five/Six Nations -- but his presence was enough to bolster the resolve of his team when the French pressed for a late win.
Indeed while he had been impassive during the anthems by the end he looked as nervous as his less experienced team-mates.
He was seen huffing and puffing his cheeks out nervously when a late French try went to the video referee but fortunately for him it was ruled out for a forward pass.
Imperious against Italy in his final Test match at Lansdowne Road, setting up three of the Irish tries, O'Driscoll started the match by being swatted aside by the barrel-chested Mathieu Bastareaud, the very antithesis of the Irishman in physique, as the French probed deep into Ireland territory.
However, never one to shirk a challenge no matter the difference in size, O'Driscoll's next tackle was a bone-jarring effort on France fullback Yoann Huget which stopped the home attack in its tracks.
Another crunching tackle on French hooker Dimitri Szarzewski as the clock ticked towards the end of the first quarter saw him have to call the trainer on for the first time for attention but it was more to do with getting a knock from burly prop team-mate Cian Healy -- who gave him a consoling pat on the head.
O'Driscoll shook off the cobwebs and had recovered sufficiently to be involved twice in the phase of play that saw Ireland score their first try, one shimmy standing out.
O'Driscoll was more heavily involved in the third try indeed he went desperately close to scoring it himself but was brought down just short of the line and instead it was Sexton who went over.
The day had really all been about O'Driscoll despite protestations to the contrary as was evident from the pre-match team warm-up.
The TV screen showed a collage of players including present Ireland captain Paul O'Connell and England fullback Mike Brown paying tribute to him with the message 'no one will ever fill your boots' and a thank you from all of them for giving so much to the sport.
The cheers that greeted that were nothing compared to when the pitchside presenter announced his name in the team line-ups, the Irish flags waving in unison round the stadium.
"He is the prince and he deserves what he has earned," Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt told BBC.