BRIAN O’DRISCOLL AND Gordon D’Arcy will line out for the 56th and final time as Ireland’s midfield partnership this evening as they seek Six Nations glory in Paris.
The duo first appeared at inside and outside centre for Ireland in 2004, in a 36-15 win over Wales at Lansdowne Road. D’Arcy went on to be named Six Nations Player of the Tournament before falling victim to a knee injury. He returned in February 2005, featured on the Lions Tour to New Zealand and won his Irish jersey back for the November internationals.
O’Driscoll, an established star in the Irish set-up from 1999, was out of action with the shoulder injury he picked up on Lions duty at the Cake Tin. He came straight back into the Irish side in February 2006 and D’Arcy was waiting with a pop pass or two. The partnership flourished and began to pay off for Leinster as they ascended to the summit of European club rugby. A Grand Slam, three Heineken Cups and two league titles followed.
The pair have been forced to adapt their games over the years as the bursts of pace have tapered off, only to be replaced by putting teammates into try-scoring positions [see O'Driscoll to Simon Zebo last year] and pitching into rucks [see D'Arcy versus New Zealand in 2012 and 2013]. Here is a short pictorial to Ireland’s greatest ever midfield duo: