Irish Rugby
O'Driscoll signs on for one more year
ESPN Staff
May 16, 2013
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll celebrates his score, Wales v Ireland, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, February 2, 2013
Brian O'Driscoll has put pen to paper on a new one-year deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union © PA Photos

Brian O'Driscoll has signed a new one-year contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union which will see him remain available to play for Ireland and Leinster until the end of June 2014.

Comment by ESPNscrum's Graham Jenkins

  • The chants of 'one more year' from the RDS faithful aimed at convincing their hero to play on appear to have done the trick - Brian O'Driscoll, surely the greatest player of the modern era, has opted to extend his glittering career in a decision that should be celebrated by the entire rugby world - not just those Ireland and Leinster fans that have delighted at his exploits for over a decade.
  • An inspirational figure throughout a career that has included Six Nations and Heineken Cup glory, only a precious few command the same respect and admiration that follows O'Driscoll throughout the rugby globe. You only hope that his battered body can continue to live up to that reputation and the demands of another gruelling campaign. His combative approach to the game has taken its toll and as a result new Leinster boss Matt O'Connor and Ireland coach-to-be Joe Schmidt will have to manage their precious resource carefully if they are to get the best out him. But don't expect BOD to change his ways and coast through the coming season as if it was a lap of honour. He will be at the heart of proceedings throughout, as is his way, starting with a fourth British & Irish Lions tour next month.
  • Looking further ahead, it will be interesting to see how much Schmidt relies on him knowing how important the coming year will be in terms of development of those players who will carry Ireland's hopes into the 2015 Rugby World Cup that is looming on the horizon. His presence could deny his younger rivals precious exposure and appear self-defeating if O'Driscoll has no intention of playing beyond next season - or could he be tempted to play 'one more year'?

O'Driscoll's playing future has been the subject of widespread speculation in recent months with his current deal set to expire this summer. The 34-year-old had hinted at a possible retirement following the forthcoming British & Irish Lions tour to Australia but has opted to extend his glittering playing career by one more season.

"I want to thank the IRFU and Leinster for allowing me the time to think about my future and discuss my options with my family," O'Driscoll said in a statement. "The support my family and the Irish and Leinster fans have shown me over the past few months, and indeed years, has been phenomenal and I am now very much looking forward to one more year playing with Ireland and Leinster."

The news will come as a timely boost to Leinster coach Joe Schmidt ahead of his side's Amlin Challenge Cup final clash with Stade Francais on Friday night and the Kiwi's recent appointment as the new Ireland boss is thought to have been pivotal in O'Driscoll's decision to play on.

"It's great that Brian has agreed to continue playing," said Schmidt. "He's an inspirational player, not only on the pitch, but also on the training ground. He's played well again this season and other players continue to learn from him. I know that every squad of which he is a part will profit from his qualities both as a rugby player and a person."

O'Driscoll made his senior Ireland and Leinster debuts in 1999 and has since racked up 125 Test caps and notched 46 international tries. He tasted Six Nations Grand Slam glory in 2009 and has also shared in four Triple Crowns, three Heineken Cup victories and two RaboDirect PRO12 titles.

Announcing the contract extension IRFU chief executive Philip Browne, said: "The IRFU is delighted that Brian has chosen to sign a new contract, ensuring he remains available to Ireland and Leinster for one more year.

"Brian is a truly exceptional talent and there is no doubt that this new contract will boost our game, at every level, in the coming year. We wish him, his Leinster and indeed his Lions teammates all the very best in their forthcoming games and look forward to working with Brian in the 2013/14 season."

In related news, O'Driscoll has been ruled out of tomorrow night's Amlin Challenge Cup final against Stade Francais at the RDS after he failed to recover from the back spasm he suffered against Glasgow in their PRO12 semi-final clash last weekend.

Leinster coach and soon-to-be Ireland boss Joe Schmidt is understood to have been pivotal in Brian O'Driscoll's decision to play on © Getty Images
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