Ireland 30-21 France, Six Nations Championship, February 7
O'Driscoll refuses to get carried away
February 7, 2009
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll led his side to a long-awaited victory over France © Getty Images
Brian O'Driscoll refused to talk up Ireland's Six Nations title claims despite their thrilling 30-21 victory over France at Croke Park.
The Irish registered their first success against Les Bleus since 2003 to land a crucial early blow in the championship race. But O'Driscoll, who evoked memories of his try for the Lions against Australia in 2001 with a dynamic first-half score, sought to diffuse the expectation created by dispatching France.
"We've gained some momentum but while it's France we've beaten and they're top-class opposition, we shouldn't get carried away," he said. "You can't win a Six Nations in the first game but you can lose it in the first game. Essentially we're where we want to be after one match. We're happy with our performance and we'll enjoy this win, but from tomorrow it's all about Italy."
Man of the match Jamie Heaslip, O'Driscoll and substitute Gordon D'Arcy ran in tries in a magnificent win against a swashbuckling French team. The outcome helped erase memories of Ireland's defeat in the same fixture two years ago when France scored a try on the stroke of full-time to win the match 20-17. But on this occasion Ireland were far more clinical, expertly restoring their lead after Les Bleus had pegged them back to 20-18 heading into the final quarter.
"It's the sign of good opposition when you can't pull away from a side," said O'Driscoll. "When you play the best teams in the world they tend not to let you have a free run at it, even if things are going reasonably well.
"They had plenty of fight and overall the result was very pleasing. We learnt a lot from two years ago - that was clear from the way we hunted them down. Maybe there was a little knowledge in the team that we had it when we needed it second time around."
O'Driscoll, from a near standing start, raced between the narrow gap separating Lionel Beauxis and Yannick Jauzion before wrong-footing Maxime Medard to cross in the 43rd minute. Scoring tries isn't the be-all and end-all but it's nice to get on the scoresheet every now and again to remind yourself you're still capable of it," he said.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney saluted his players for the nation's first victory over France in eight attempts. "Any day you get the better of France is a great day to be enjoyed by everyone. It's a privilege for us to be here," he said.
France coach Marc Lievremont blamed indiscipline for today's outcome and admitted his side arrived at Croke Park confident of making a winning start to the Six Nations. "I'm exceptionally disappointed. Both the players and coaches are frustrated because we had high hopes for this match," he said.
"We wanted to start the Six Nations well. There was a lack of discipline, especially early on. I find it hard to explain. Ireland were always making us play catch-up rugby, which is difficult to do at Croke Park. We produced some good moves and kicked two drop-goals but made too many bad choices and didn't finish our chances.
"We felt a sense of urgency because we were behind and they were able to break through our defence. reland are a very experienced team and they work together."