Brian O’Driscoll gave a very personal and in-depth look into the origins of his rugby career during BT's Rugby Walks series earlier this year.
Talking with Craig Doyle, O’Driscoll brought the host to St. Anne’s Park in Clontarf/Raheny, where he played games as a kid with his neighbourhood friends, before taking him to Clontarf RFC’s grounds and the pitches of his alma mater Blackrock College.
While in the grounds of Blackrock, he told Doyle of the training sessions he had there, and such was the difficulty of them that he thinks it might have been the fittest he’s ever been.
I don’t think I was ever fitter then I was at seventeen or eighteen years of age. We used to do insane fitness sessions, like really tough. Hundred and ten metre sprints where you’d have to do them in twenty seconds.
So dead ball line to dead ball line in twenty seconds, and then one to one rest, so twenty seconds rest and go again, doing them in blocks of twelve, a couple of minutes off and so three sets of that, at the end of a rugby session. God it was brutal.
Join us on a journey through the life of @BrianODriscoll! 🇮🇪
Growing up in St. Anne's Park and discovering the fun side of rugby at @BlackrockColl and @ClontarfRugby.
📍 Explore some of the places that helped shape Brian into the person he is today.#RugbyWalks (1/3) pic.twitter.com/ffqOTmNyAy
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) March 15, 2022
The gruelling training reaped rewards. O'Driscoll was famously part of the Blackrock 'Dream Team', the all-conquering schools rugby team that couldn't accommodate Ireland's greatest rugby player in its starting XV.
Des Ryan, formerly Arsenal's Head of Academy Sports Medicine and Athletic Development retweeted the clip with the caption, “Fascinating clip with Brian O’Driscoll remembering his fitness sessions from school. They sound excellent. By his description it was 4K of HSR (high-speed running) at the end of a session. Are we under training young people now?”
Fascinating clip with Brian O’Driscoll remembering his fitness sessions from school. They sound excellent. By his description it was 4K of HSR at the end of a session. Are we under training young people now ? pic.twitter.com/FI7YCKVIpq
— Des Ryan (@DeasunO) March 15, 2022
It’s an interesting point from Ryan. With the sheer amount of emphasis in modern sport on rest and recovery, have we gone too far down that road?
Interestingly, Fijian coach Naca Cawanibuka said the training regime weren't too disimiliar to how the Fiji 7s trained.
Sounds like Fiji 7s to me😉❤️💪. Most people told me it was archaic old schoo methods. I remember being called crazy and a bastard as well😁. Mix tough with recovery to help support talent. The rest will be history🙏🇫🇯 https://t.co/PpeQK85Xdw
— Naca Cawanibuka (@cawnac_naca) March 18, 2022
What is certain is that this training was most likely one of the reasons why Brian O’Driscoll was able to make such an impact on the world stage despite being so young, and despite the fact that Irish rugby had been lagging behind other nations in terms of professionalism.