PARIS - Brian O'Driscoll's extraordinary international rugby career ended with a little jig of joy yesterday as Ireland won the Six Nations title after a pulsating 22-20 win over France.
The 35-year-old — who holds the world record for caps with 142 — could not have found a more fitting arena than the Stade de France where, in 2000, he announced his enormous talent with a hat-trick of tries in what was Ireland's only previous victory in Paris in 42 years.
The Leinster centre, known affectionately in Ireland as 'BOD' and whose biography was titled 'In BOD we trust', may not have added to his 47 Test tries — including a record 26 in the Five/Six Nations — but his presence was enough to bolster the resolve of his team when the French pressed for a late win.
Indeed while he had been impassive during the anthems by the end he looked as nervous as his less experienced teammates.
He was seen huffing and puffing his cheeks out nervously when a late French try went to the video referee but fortunately for him it was ruled out for a forward pass.
Imperious against Italy in his final Test match at Lansdowne Road, setting up three of the Irish tries, O'Driscoll was involved twice in the phase of play that saw Ireland score their first try, one shimmy standing out.
O'Driscoll was more heavily involved in the third try indeed he went desperately close to scoring it himself but was brought down just short of the line and instead it was Sexton who went over.
The day had really all been about O'Driscoll despite protestations to the contrary as was evident from the pre-match team warm-up.
The TV screen showed a collage of players including present Ireland captain Paul O'Connell and England fullback Mike Brown paying tribute to him with the message 'no one will ever fill your boots' and a thank you from all of them for giving so much to the sport.
The cheers that greeted that were nothing compared to when the pitchside presenter announced his name in the team line-ups, the Irish flags waving in unison round the stadium.
"He is the prince and he deserves what he has earned," Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt told BBC.