16 March, 2011

Rugby: Wilkinson pays tribute to Brian O'Driscoll; but personal records "don't matter" to Irish legend:

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BRIAN O'DRISCOLL: uninterested in individual awards
Ireland captain (and lynchpin of the side for well over 10 years) Brian O'Driscoll has made his feelings very clear on equalling the all-time Six Nations try scoring record. On Saturday; the Dubliner equalled Scotland's Ian Smith's tally of 24 tournament tries.
In the immediate aftermath of that defeat to Wales, Brian made it very clear that equalling the try record was merely a sideshow to the injustice of losing the game because of  a very poor refereeing (non) decision.
O'Driscoll is however, approaching a number of international rugby milestones. He will equal South African John Smit’s all-time international captaincy mark of 76 tests.
Already, the Dubliner is Ireland’s leading try-scorer (43). He is also about to move into fourth place ahead of France legend Phillippe Sella (111 caps) in the list of most capped players in international rugby.  
Jonny Wilkinson is likely to be England’s replacement fly-half on Saturday. No stranger to the record books, he holds the title of the highest points scorer (1,195) in international rugby. Wilkinson was quick to point out his enduring respect for a fellow record-breaker: “The last decade has presented amazing times for Brian and I, even if he’s found himself on the field a little more. He’s had a few less injuries. He's a big part of why they play well.” he said.

JONNY WILKINSON:  Happy memories of Dublin in 2003
"Ireland always bring passion. Irish players play better at home and even better in big situations,” 
- Jonny Wilkinson

The England fly-half also pointed out England’s 2003 Grand Slam 42-6 crushing of Ireland as the ‘momentum changer’ that was crucial to their World Cup win in Australia later that year. “I’ll never forget that match in Dublin. It was a big day. We got off to a good start and managed to keep the pedal down, a strategy that will stand us in good stead again this year.
“You’re rarely in that position against a team like Ireland. It was the culmination of lessons learnt and lots of desire,” he said. 
There was a feeling of then or never having had so many near misses in years leading up to that.
“No one in the England camp underestimates how tough it’ll be to win there. It’s a sensational end to the championship. Ireland always bring that passion. The Irish players play even better at home and even better in big situations,” Wilkinson added.
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