Brian O’Driscoll will play his last home international on March 8th against Italy, in his 15th and final Six Nations Campaign.
We have teamed up with O2 Rugby to pay tribute to the greatest thirteen there is. You can get involved by posting a picture of 13/thirteen with #thirteen to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Each of the first 10,000 entries will raise €1 for Brian’s chosen charities - Temple Street and the ISPCC.
Today, we take a look at some of the most sublime and significant passes from the great man's career.
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1. To Jonathan Sexton, v. Munster, 2011
A lethal break, eyes up looking for options, and a killer reverse just before contact.
2. To Simon Zebo, v. Wales, 2013
How do you display world-class ability? You pick up a flat pass at full tilt, run a clever line, then put your winger through to score, all without breaking stride - you also need to take out three defenders simultaneously. No big deal.
3. Through the legs to Girvan Dempsey, v. Muster 2006
O'Driscoll's magic hands and positional awareness are made even more stunning by the fact that he gets away a through-the-legs pass while still reeling from an earlier hit. Horgan's initial pass, with minimal time to act, is pretty slick too.
4. Through the legs to Rob Kearney v. Northampton, 2013
Awareness, ingenuity, brilliance.
5. Through the legs to Fergus McFadden v. Samoa, 2013
Our hat-trick of kettlebell passes is completed by this one to the Tullow Tank last autumn. Capitalising on a slip by the Samoan winger after Jackson's searching kick, Drico's flick sets the try-scoring wheels in motion.
6. To Tyrone Howe in the buildup to Dempsey's try, Twickenham, 2004
It's a floated skip-pass which any top centre should execute with ease, but BOD showed his extra class by delaying it by just a fraction longer than expected. This draws in two English defenders and gives Howe enough time and space to lay it off to Demspey, who finishes with aplomb. The score was the difference between the sides and gave Ireland their first win at Twickenham since 1994.
7. To Denis Hickie, v. South Africa 2000
This might just be my personal favourite. The dawn of the new century coincided with your correspondent's immersion into rugby fandom. It was an exciting time, as a traditionalist game began to accommodate new, more professional influences .
There's so many retro delights in this short clip from what was BOD's second year on the Irish team - the hooped jerseys, the compression shorts, the gaudy ad on the halfway line which looks like it says "Shit" and a cameo by Kieran Dawson after the try.
It also features the immortal Phillip Matthews line :"There was only one decision to make there; and that was give it to Tyrone Howe", which was probably never uttered again outside of Ravenhill. The uploader describes O'Driscoll's pass as "gorgeous". Agreed.
8. To himself v. Ulster, 2006
What do you call this? An auto-pass? A selfie? I call it bloody magnificent.
9. To Shane Horgan v. South Africa, 2006
A nice little reverse to set up Shaggy's try in the 32-15 win over the centenary Springboks.
10. To Girvan Dempsey v. England, 2007
It's a straightforward 13-15 off the left hand, D'Arcy's pass to BOD is better, but it hit its target and set up one of the most historically significant tries in Irish rugby.
11. To Leigh Halfpenny, Lions training session, 2013
This might not be from an actual match, but leaving this out would be a scandalous omission. A full-sprint flick and gather, followed by a reverse to Leigh Halfpenny while looking the other way. Sublime.
12. To himself v. Wasps, 2008
Like the "moment of genius" against Ulster at Lansdowne, this is the second pass from BOD to BOD on our list. OK, it's two kicks forward, but it's still called rugby football so kicks gathered by a teammate, or by yourself, count as far as I'm concerned.
The first kick was definitely meant to be quickly picked up again, and the second, a beautifully-weighted fly-hack, is gathered just before the try line. A wonderful example of the man's awareness, footballing brain and ability to create scores out of seemingly lost opportunities.
13. To Luke Fitzgerald v. Northampton, 2013
Drico's second moment of brilliance in the Pool 1 showdown is justifiably overshadowed by the through-the-legs pass we've seen earlier, but since we've deemed successfully-gathered kicks to be passes (because they are) then this needs to be included as well.
Never shy to demonstrate his rounded kicking game, the grubber is an oft-used O'Driscoll weapon - usually as a territory-finding option early in the game. This example of a BOD grubber-turned-try is as brilliant as any. Luke Fitz deserves credit for his finishing here too.