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'I'm shook, a sitting duck': How Brian O'Driscoll talked his way back onto the field against France

The centre was treated for suspected in concussion in a gruelling Six Nations clash with France in 2013.

THE CLOSING STAGES of Ireland’s 2013 Six Nations draw with France was one of the most stark reminders of the punishment rugby players put themselves in for.

In that game, Brian O’Driscoll suffered a ‘suspected concussion’ and was back on the field within minutes.

Here’s how the centre looks back on the blows he sustained during that game, and how he passed the test to re-take his place in the defensive line.

Brian O'Driscoll and his wife Amy Huberman with baby Sadie O'Driscoll's wife, Amy Huberman, and daughter Sadie watch him walk off post-match. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“In the second half, France come at us; they bring it back to 13 – 6. All around me there are bodies on the line and I’m not exactly coming through unscathed myself.

“I limp out of a ruck with a dead leg. I get a bad cut on my ear. I take a big dunt in a tackle and my legs wobble.

“The hits are massive and the casualties mount. Luke Marshall is on the floor getting treatment for concussion when France start pushing hard on our line.

Source: gorpitsen junior/YouTube

“Vincent Debaty, their 19-stone prop, comes thundering at me and I bounce off him like he’s made of rock. When I get up, I stumble back into the defensive line but I’m shook, a sitting duck if only the French realise it.”

The danger briefly passes, Cian Healy slaps a stumbling O’Driscoll out of the firing line while Rory Best and Peter O’Mahony combine to force a turnover penalty.

“The rip in my ear gives me a way out – and a way back in again. It buys me five minutes in the blood bin to get my head together.

“I take smelling salts on the sideline. I insist to the medics that I’m good to go again. They run the protocol questions for suspected concussion:

‘Where are you?”The Aviva.”Who are you playing against?”France.’

‘What’s the score?’

“Expecting the question, I’ve already looked up at the scoreboard – knowing that if I can nail it quickly it will help me get back on.

‘They’ve just got a try, it’s 13 all let me back on!’

“Maybe the story would have been different if there wasn’t so much going on, if they didn’t have Luke’s situation to worry about as well, but I talk my way onto the field with four minutes left to play.

“My head is clear is enough to know that if this is my last international match at home, then I don’t want it to end this way.”

Of course, it didn’t end that way for O’Driscoll with Ireland. There was, however, another blow to the head later that year. This time, he could not convince his way back across the whitewash.

“You’re coming off,’ [Dr. Eanna Falvey] says firmly.

When we’re 15 points up on the All Blacks, with 30 minutes left?‘No, no! I’m fine!’

“Under the stand, I answer every question correctly and pass the test.There are two other doctors on duty, but Eanna’s the senior medic and his mind is already made up. Eight months on from the controversy over me being allowed back into the game against France, he’s absolutely insistent.”

Brian O'Driscoll is given treatment Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O’Driscoll adds: “It’s only afterwards that I’m in a position to see things with clarity and accept that the decision – always – has got to be taken out of our [the players'] hands.

“Our safety matters a whole lot more than the outcome of any game.”

Brian O’Driscoll’s autobiography The Test is available to buy from today.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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