Monday 22 January 2018

Copy BOD if you want to succeed, reveals England legend Jason Robinson

Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, leaves the pitch after the game
Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland, leaves the pitch after the game
Jason Robinson
Brian O'Driscoll

Jason Robinson and Scott Williams had a simple message for the 10 children who gathered in the Millennium Stadium on a beautiful Sunday as the sun set on the 2014 Six Nations – copy Brian O’Driscoll.

The budding union superstars were the lucky ones who entered “Ultimate Rugby Weekend”, a competition ran by Dove Men+Care in which the winners - and their very fortunate parents - watched Wales beat Scotland in the Six Nations at the Cardiff citadel and then, on the same famous pitch, enjoy a training session with wing legend Robinson and Wales centre Williams.

The ages ranged from eight to 12 and all were amazed by Robinson’s still nifty footwork. Although, on this particular weekend, it was appropriate that the former England international pointed to his old British and Irish Lions team-mate as the ultimate role model.

“Of course, I wanted England to win the Championship, but nobody could begrudge Brian finishing his international career holding that trophy,” Robinson said. “If any of these kids want to make their living out of playing rugby they could do no better than using Brian as the example.

“He had incredible talent, sure, but with this he had the incredible work ethic and just as importantly, the humility. The 2014 Six Nations will always be remembered for his perfect send-off.”

Williams concurred – but with a sly grin. In Wales’ defeat in Dublin, Williams hit O’Driscoll with a thunderous tackle from which the veteran soon rose – but from which Williams suffered a shoulder injury which put him out of the remaining three matches.

“I suppose that’s one to tell the grandchildren!” Williams said. “As a centre it was an honour to play against Brian. What a player, what a man. He deserved that trophy and, to my mind, Ireland were the best team.”

Robinson concurred and spoke of Ireland now embarking on the huge challenge of filling O'Driscoll’s huge boots. But he was also keen to emphasise the huge strides made by England and the successful gamble of their coach, Stuart Lancaster.

“Stuart wasn’t afraid to throw in some inexperienced players and how they rewarded him,” Robinson said. “Coming in there were a lot of question marks regarding the England backline, but they were all answered.

“Take Luther Burrell. He made such an impression at centre that when Manu Tuilagi came back from injury he could only get on the bench – everybody would have thought he would have been straight back in. With this sort of progression England are in such a better place finishing this Six Nations than they were after being drubbed in Cardiff 12 years ago. It’s early days in the team’s advancement and I’ll be intrigued to see how they got on in New Zealand in the summer.”

Reflecting on the Championship as whole, Robinson felt it was encapsulated by O’Driscoll’s last tango in Paris. “That final game, with Ireland hanging on to their two-point win, summed up the Six Nations as far as I’m concerned – it was dramatic throughout,” Robinson said. “To come into the last weekend with three teams on six points made it so interesting. And it went down to the last seconds which was fantastic. The Championship just keeps on producing."

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