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'It wasn't nice being used as the guinea pig' - O'Driscoll on that spear tackle

The recently retired centre opened up about the tackle that could have ended his career.

O'Driscoll was forced to undergo surgery on his shoulder.
O'Driscoll was forced to undergo surgery on his shoulder.

A FORTNIGHT BEFORE the release of his eagerly-anticipated autobiography, Brian O’Driscoll conceded he was used as the guinea pig in the aftermath of the ill-fated speak tackle that saw him sidelined for seven months in 2005.

The off the ball incident, which is sure to be discussed in-depth in his book “The Test”, saw O’Driscoll’s Lions tour end after just 40 seconds as he was carted off with a dislocated shoulder. New Zealand captain Tana Umaga and hooker Kevan Mealamu combined to upend the centre and while O’Driscoll admits it forced a rule change, he says it wasn’t nice being used as an example.

“The rules of the game have subsequently changed and the tip-tackle and speak tackle outlawed with guys now being sent-off for things that are as quarter as bad as the incident that happened back then. It’s not nice being the guinea pig though,” he said during the BOD – The Brian O’Driscoll Story on BT Sport.

The International Rugby Board has since ruled that a spear tackle should be punished with a straight red card. Wales captain Sam Warburton was sent-off by Irish referee Alain Rolland in controversial circumstances during the World Cup semi-final in 2011 following the law change.

“I suppose someone had to be that guy and thankfully it was only a dislocated shoulder. You have to move on and get on with it and I accepted the apology. The overriding feeling was just annoyance that you don’t have any more tour but they said there was no intent in it and you’ve got to take them at face value and get on with it.”

Neither Umaga or Mealamu received any punishment for the tackle, which forced O’Driscoll to undergo surgery, with an independent citing commissioner ruling that the All Black pair had no case to answer.

During the one-hour documentary, which aired last night, O’Driscoll’s parents relived the ‘mind-numbing’ incident and described their disappointment in the way it was handled by the authorities.

“Someone beside me said there is someone down,” Geraldine, his mother, recalled. “When that happens at a game you look for your son on the pitch. The someone said it was Brian and I saw his hand was over his forehead. I told Frank [Brian’s father] to go and see what’s that about.

“One of the things that really rankled with me was the press coverage in New Zealand. They had cartoons of him and called him a whinger. Of all the things that really upset me as a mother was that because of all the things I knew Brian wasn’t a whinger.

“It was appalling,” his father continued. “The handling of it by the powers that be was, in my opinion, disgraceful but Brian to his great credit said it’s happened, we’ve got to move on and he has.

“I haven’t looked at the video since 2005. We have a copy of it but it’s enough to give every parent the shivers.”

Watch some of the programme here:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x280da7_rec-21_sport

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Ryan Bailey

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