'Jonathan Davies can carry O'Driscoll's flame'
March 16, 2014
Brian O'Driscoll delights in the occasion of his last Six Nations championship © PA Photos
Sunday's newspapers bid a final farewell to Brian O'Driscoll after the Irish centre bowed out of his international career, sealing this year's Six Nations championship with a 22-20 win in Paris on Saturday.
Eddie Butler paid tribute to O'Driscoll in The Observer, saying: "It was obvious then he was a bit special, but to finish on 133 caps for Ireland was beyond the bounds of clairvoyance back then. It has been a wonderful career and he has scored 46 tries in every which way, from the blistering and long to the short and stubby. All of them worth five precious points."
While O'Driscoll nears retirement, however, Wales' Jonathan Davies will be the man to pick up his mantle as the great northern hemisphere outside centre, according to Stuart Barnes in The Sunday Times: "Brian O'Driscoll, Europe's greatest 13 of the modern age, may have gone, but rugby supporters should breathe a sigh of relief that Davies is back. Europe has an outside centre to carry the flame. The outside-centre is not lacking in size but it is the technical accuracy of his game that sets him apart from the vast majority of backs bashing their way through their careers."
On the other side of that result lay Scotland, fifth in the standings and, according to Iain Morrison in The Scotsman, they fell victim to a never-ending series of squad issues: "Just like that Whack-a-Mole carnival game, you no sooner batter one issue into submission than another problem pops up elsewhere."
Ireland reign triumphant, and swerving toward the bigger picture, Eamonn Sweeney writes in the Irish Independent that there's more to this than 141-times capped Test centre O'Driscoll, "because championships are won by teams. They're not won by sentiment or retromania, they're won by great players performing together in the present with nothing in their mind except the task in hand."
For England, they now turn attention to the summer tour to New Zealand and Rob Kitson in the Observer has warned against getting over-excited. "Sure, there were flashes of excellence, normally when Brown and Owen Farrell were in the vicinity, but New Zealand would probably have nudged 80 points in similar circumstances. The precision, the ruthlessness, the artfully applied scalpel: England did not show enough of it here and will not win a World Cup, their ultimate aim, until they do."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd