Former Ireland rugby captain Brian O’ Driscoll has admitted that his mind was elsewhere during the 6-12 Six Nations loss to England at the Aviva Stadium.
O’ Driscoll, speaking to The Telegraph, admitted his leadership skills were not at their usual levels during the game as his thoughts were firmly on the birth of his first child, daughter Sadie, earlier in the day.
The Leinster man left the team hotel at 8:30 am on the morning of the game, following a call from his wife. “I saw Amy’s name flash up and I knew we were under way.” The Ireland centre told The Telegraph. “I rushed to the hospital, Sadie was born, we all had an hour together and then I had to pack the bag and go to play rugby.”
O’ Driscoll admitted that the birth of his daughter has changed his perspective on life and admitted the England game’s significance shrank considerably. “I was back at the hotel about midday. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was playing a game of that importance and yet, in an instant, my whole perspective had changed.
“This most wonderful thing had happened. Everything else paled in significance.”
The Ireland centre admitted that his performance was affected by birth of his first child. “I don’t even remember a lot of the game and I was in my own world for much of the time. It was the sort of match that needed a bit of leadership from me but which I wasn’t quite able to deliver as I usually would have hoped to have done.
“It was all quite bizarre. I didn’t make any great errors but I didn’t add a huge amount either.”
Ireland’s disappointing 6-12 loss was the first time since 2003 that O’ Driscoll had tasted defeat to England, but he conceded that he didn’t spend much time reflecting on the result. “Right after the game my mind switched back over to my wife and newborn daughter. I went straight there and didn’t give the game another thought.”
The birth of his first child was the greatest moment in O’ Driscoll’s life and the former Lions captain admitted that Sadie is all he thinks about. “That was the greatest achievement of my life. Rugby has been and is important. But it’s eclipsed at every level by a long way when you have a child.
“Games will come and go but some things are here to stay. It dominates your life. I would have thought a lot about rugby matters at this time of year. Now I don’t have time to think about rugby at all.”
It’s clear that O’ Driscoll’s perspective on life has changed considerably with the ex-Blackrock man experiencing fatherhood for the first time. Sadie has replaced rugby as the love of his life, and there is no doubt the former Ireland captain will be as successful off the field as he has been on it.
A Lions tour is on the horizon and O’ Driscoll will most likely be on the plane. However, a second stint as captain is unlikely given his new situation.