With the release of the Irish World Cup squad came the news that many had been expecting. Emotion was placed well down Joe Schmidt's list of criteria and Gordon D'Arcy was duly left out of the squad. The Leinster centre had already confirmed that he would retire after the World Cup one way or the other.
He'll act as valuable cover for Leinster during the tournament but Joe Schmidt's announcement this morning has spelled the end of his international career and what a career it was.
On the morning of Gordon D'Arcy's impending retirement there were some wonderful tributes from all kinds of rugby fans from Munster, Leinster and outside Ireland. People mourned the soon to be departure of the second of one of Ireland's greatest ever centre partnerships, and the demise of his wonderful beard.
D'Arcy was one of Ireland's most important players as rugby's popularity grew exponentially in the 00's. But rarely do people mention one of his more important tries; in fact - one of Irish rugby's most important tries.
Picture The Scene:
Ireland are just recovering from one of their worst Six Nations performances of the golden generation that cost highly thought of coach Eddie O'Sullivan his job. The national team was in a mess. The pain of the previous World Cup was fresh in the memory, and there were suggestions in the camp that the Munster players cared more about their province than the fortunes of the Irish team. Which would lead to the famous Enfield gathering over Christmas, but the public didn't know about that at the time.
A new coach had been installed in Munster hero Declan Kidney, but the early performances the previous November hadn't given much room for optimism.
On a personal level, 2008 had been a write-off for D'Arcy. A badly broken arm sustained in the opening game of the previous year's Six Nations against Italy had ruled him out of action for over ten months. There were concerns about how badly broken the arm was, and whether D'Arcy would return at all. He had to undergo several operations to get back to playing properly after one of the breaks failed to recover properly.
Paddy Wallace had taken over the inside centre jersey in D'Arcy's absence, and D'Arcy started the opening game against France on the bench. Ireland weren't fancied at all, especially with no against France since 2001.
Things started badly for Ireland, with Imanol Harinordoquy's try giving France the lead. That was before Jamie Heaslip's wonderful break and step brought Ireland back into it. Ireland lead narrowly at the break. Heaslip's try was against the run of play, as France had controlled things.
O'Driscoll continued Ireland's momentum with a typical O'Driscoll try from a lineout, running hard and flat from O'Gara's pass through the French defense before a wonderful sidestep by the covering defender extended Ireland's lead.
France struck back though, and with Medard scoring a try, and Beauxis nailing a drop goal they started to build pressure that signalled a typical French win over the Irish.
Until D'Arcy struck.
The try itself isn't much to write home about, despite the impressive footwork we associate with Gordon D'Arcy and the power used to get him over the line. No, it's the genuine excitement from the entire Irish squad when the try is given. It's the clearest sign of a unified team as any other you'll ever see in sport.
That try sealed the victory over France, and set them on the road for bigger and better things that would culminate in that Grand Slam in Cardiff. But we got a glimpse of what the Irish squad were united towards in that try.
Which is why it remains my favourite try of all time.