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Monday 28 July 2014

Rory Best: We had an unspoken pact to win this one for BOD

Published 08/02/2014|19:21

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Ireland had an unspoken pact to see off Warren Gatland's Wales and help Brian O'Driscoll end the Lions final Test argument, according to Rory Best.

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The Ulster hooker hailed former Ireland captain O'Driscoll for shelving his personal grudge with Gatland in favour of driving Joe Schmidt's men towards their second-straight RBS 6 Nations victory.

Lions boss Gatland dropped O'Driscoll for the summer's final and decisive series Test clash with Australia.

The tourists sealed the series 41-16, with Gatland considering that vindication sufficient to stave off further condemnation for omitting O'Driscoll in favour of Jonathan Davies.

The row has rumbled without pause ever since though, despite both Wales coach Gatland and O'Driscoll insisting in midweek any animosity had long since evaporated.

Ireland destroyed Wales' hopes of a second Grand Slam in three years with a stunning 26-3 victory in Dublin, damaging Wales' bid for a third-straight championship title.

Accomplished hooker Best said the Ireland squad never discussed O'Driscoll's Lions snub in the build-up to facing Wales - because there was no need.

"I think it wasn't something we talked about, we knew full well about it though of course," said Best.

"You wouldn't need to be a genius to work out all the stuff that's been written in the summer and effectively ever since.

"But like I said, Drico didn't go out of his way to prove any points one-on-one, he played within the team system like he's done all his career, and yet again he was fantastic, to make sure that what's important to us, the team performing and the team winning, to make sure that happened."

8 February 2014; Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, is tackled by Sam Warburton, right, and George North, Wales. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, is tackled by Sam Warburton, right, and George North
8 February 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, left, and Brian O'Driscoll after their side's victory. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell, left, and Brian O'Driscoll after their side's victory
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll is tackled by Wales's Sam Warburton
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll is tackled by Wales's Sam Warburton

Ulster duo Chris Henry and Paddy Jackson claimed their first international tries in Ireland's superlative victory.

The hosts dismantled Wales' much-vaunted breakdown game, standout star Peter O'Mahony eclipsing tackle-area king Sam Warburton without issue.

Ireland's Conor Murray (C) clears the ball against Wales in their Six Nations rugby union match at Aviva stadium
Ireland's Conor Murray (C) clears the ball against Wales in their Six Nations rugby union match at Aviva stadium
Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy is challenged by Wales's Gethin Jenkins during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy is challenged by Wales's Gethin Jenkins during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium
Wales players look dejected in the final minutes of the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday February 8, 2014. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brain Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No video emulation. Photographs cannot be altered or adjusted other than in the course of normal journalistic or editorial practice. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Wales players look dejected in the final minutes of the RBS 6 Nations match at the Aviva Stadium

Gatland lamented his side's comprehensive and deserved loss, but then took a moment to thank the Irish for their warm welcome.

The former Ireland coach had joked with O'Driscoll via a Christmas card that he would be booed in Dublin at this clash.

There was no such frosty reception though, leaving the Kiwi coach to pay tribute to the accepting Irish supporters.

"They are probably the most respectful fans in the world," said Gatland.

"I've been overwhelmed the last couple of days the reception here and hospitality shown in Ireland.

"Everywhere I've gone people have just said good luck and enjoy the match."

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