Brian's 'bittersweet' victory
Rugby star reveals mix of emotions at Lions' win
Published 08/07/2013 | 04:00
HE wasn't wearing the jersey when they made history.
And while Brian O'Driscoll is refusing to let his omission from the team for the deciding Test taint the Lions victory, he admits the ending of the 16-year drought for the team was "bittersweet" as he watched from the sidelines.
"The final whistle was bittersweet," he revealed in a newspaper article.
"You do not feel as much part of it if you have not played.
"That is just how it is. It was a massive mix of emotions: delight at being part of this historic moment alongside guys you have battled with, but tempered by not playing. It was hard and I would be lying if I said otherwise."
He said he was "desperately envious" of his teammates who donned the red jersey and ran out on to the pitch on Saturday to take on Australia.
"You are desperately envious of those who are out there but there is not a sliver of ambiguity about wanting to see the boys win," he wrote in a column for the 'Daily Telegraph'.
"That is non-negotiable: 100pc you want the team to go well.
"But thanks be to God, I am a series winner with the British and Irish Lions, albeit it did not finish as I would have liked it to. But you cannot write your own script."
The 41-16 victory by Warren Gatland's Lions at the ANZ Stadium was their first series win in 16 years. Afterwards, out-half Johnny Sexton dedicated the win to O'Driscoll.
"We wanted to do that for Brian O'Driscoll and give him a send off," he said after the game.
But last night the 34-year-old said he didn't want to be defined by his omission from the winning team.
"I do not want being dropped to follow me around. A similar thing happened in 2005 in New Zealand when I was dumped on my neck at the start of the first Test. I do not want this to hang over everything, people asking all the time: "Come on, Brian, how did you really feel?
"I want to be remembered as being part of a winning series."
The team are now preparing to fly home and will arrive back on Wednesday.
This is O'Driscoll's last Lions tour – and he admits it didn't quite have the ending he had hoped for. It had initially been expected that he would captain the team in the final against the Wallabies, before he was unexpectedly dropped.
"It does not fit quite as well into the story as I might have hoped but it still fits. I have played two out of three Tests, and I am a winning tourist. I wanted that so badly.
"It is considerably better than not having won a series. It feels good today. I see that happiness in there in the team room, a sense of what being a Lion is all about, a winning Lion.
"And that is a fine thing, a very fine thing indeed."