Brian O'Driscoll talks us through his favourite Heineken Cup try 11 months ago

Brian O'Driscoll talks us through his favourite Heineken Cup try

"There might be eight or 10 tries in there, but that one always gets the biggest cheer."

Brian O'Driscoll admits he and Leinster may have got ahead of themselves, in 2006, when they set up what was effectively a home Heineken Cup semi-final against Munster.


Leinster had gone to Toulouse on April 1st 2006 and made fools of those backing against them with a thrilling 41-35 win over the then three-time European champions.

O'Driscoll got Leinster motoring in that game with their first try of the game. The former Leinster and Ireland captain has a long list of stunning and important European Cup scores. Asked for the favourite of his 33 Heineken Cup tries, O'Driscoll does not miss a beat.

"Yeah, the intercept against ROG."

To hear O'Driscoll talk about that try is to get a sense of that decade-long journey he and Leinster went through to reach the summit of European rugby.


Munster had beaten Leinster convincingly, 30-6, at Lansdowne Road in 2006 not long after that win over Toulouse. Leinster felt they had destiny on their side, but the Munster pack savaged them and late tries from Ronan O'Gara and Trevor Halstead gave the final scoreboard a lopsided look.

Three years on and both sides faced off again in the final four, this time in front of 82,208 fans at Croke Park. O'Driscoll's favourite try came on 62 minutes, with Leinster 18-6 ahead but needing to defend hard just inside their 22. O'Gara lined up Paul O'Connell for a pass, but O'Driscoll was already eating up the ground.

"I probably enjoyed the next 17 or 18 minutes more than running in the try itself. But you were still a bit nervous as Munster were a team that could still come back.

"It was quite a long sequence of play, and sometimes it's not the smartest thing in the world to try for an intercept 80 metres out.

"But I've said before - taking the mickey out of ROG - that I turned around and saw Doug Howlett had tried to accelerate and had stopped; I knew he wasn't going to get me. I was able to look around, see it was ROG and he wasn't going to get me, and was able to stick it into third gear and coast in!

"Because ROG would never have had the biggest set of wheels in the world. Even though, if you look at the video, I'm certainly not getting away from him!"


'You have to finish the job', says Brian O'Driscoll

"It was an important try," says O'Driscoll, "without it being intercepting from him - it was important in terms of giving us space to be able to, you know, enjoy the end of the game and really dig in defensively and make sure we didn't give them anything from it."

Given that it was O'Gara's 73rd minute try that sealed the deal against Leinster in the 2006 semi-final, there was a certain symmetry to O'Driscoll killing Munster off by intercepting their legendary outhalf.


"Yeah, and you're not thinking of any of that, at the time. Maybe when you subsequently look back at that - him breaking our hearts - it was a steep learning curve because maybe we just thought we were better than we were, off the back of one big quarter final win over in Toulouse. We got probably put to the sword by Munster in the semi-final.

"So to come and turn the tide, three years later... them as European champions from 2008 and us to beat them and go one and win in Europe for the first time in our history, all of those things spark positive emotions.

"If we hadn't have won against Leicester [in the final], I wouldn't be speaking so fondly of it, but you have to go on and finish the job.

Ronan O'Gara feels that Leinster win in 2009 had a lasting impact. In 2018, after Leinster had won their fourth European Cup title, he told House of Rugby:

"Leinster turned the tide and became the dominant force in Ireland. That day in Croke Park that Johnny Sexton stood over me. That was the day the achieved supremacy."

"It's funny," O'Driscoll says. "whenever you're at a function and there might be a highlight reel, there might be eight or 10 tries in there, but that one always gets the biggest cheer.

"Irrespective of what room I'm in, it's always that one."


Brian O'Driscoll

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