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Brian O'Driscoll Has Made Headlines In New Zealand After Infuriating All Blacks Fans

Brian O'Driscoll Has Made Headlines In New Zealand After Infuriating All Blacks Fans
By Gavan Casey Updated

In many ways it's refreshing that Brian O'Driscoll has carried his inability to shirk a challenge with him to Twitter, but he found himself in a bit of bother following New Zealand's resounding defeat of Australia last weekend.

O'Driscoll was one of a host of former players to lambaste Sanzaar for not citing All Blacks prop Owen Franks over an alleged eye-gouge on Aussie second-row Kane Douglas during Saturday's Bledisloe Cup test at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

The former Ireland centre tweeted at the time: "This is an absolute sham @WorldRugby ???! Makes a mockery of citing. If nothing comes of this it's a farce."

Naturally he found himself on the receiving end of a bit of stick from aggrieved Kiwi fans, but after sarcastically suggesting the All Blacks never partake in foul play, he landed himself in further hot water with the following.

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He subsequently deleted the tweet, which was misconstrued to be a description of the entire country of New Zealand as opposed to those fans swinging for him online.

While accepting the tweet may not have been aimed at their whole nation, Stuff.co.NZ, New Zealand's leading online publication, were quick to discuss O'Driscoll's remarks at length. In fact, the whole ordeal seemed to plunge them into an existential crisis of some description:

Perhaps Brian O'Driscoll has touched on a wider issue following his apparent dig at New Zealand, with figures showing fewer Irish people want to move here.

While Kiwis are big fans of Ireland, with more than 8000 people heading to the Emerald Isle in the past year and the number sticking around on the increase, the same can't be said in the other direction.

Rugby legend O'Driscoll suggested New Zealanders have the All Blacks and not much else - at least from an Irish perspective.

They may also be accurate, if you're an Irishman.

In the past three years, the number of Irish visitors to New Zealand each year has increased from 10,224 to 10,352. The number of people staying in New Zealand, however, is on a big decline.

In the year ending July 2016, 816 Irish residents had entered New Zealand with a work visa. Two years earlier, that figure was 1091, meaning the number of Irish workers coming to New Zealand had dropped by a quarter in only 24 months.

No need to get all Nietzschean, lads. We're still mad about New Zealand!

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It seems the Irish rugby great has inadvertently hit a sore spot with his Kiwi mates, but he clarified his remarks - stating they were made about angry fans, and not the nation itself. Soon after sending it, O'Driscoll deleted the tweet, later describing it as "petty" to an angry New Zealander.

He did feel compelled to respond to Stuff, however, when they needlessly brought up...well...you know.

O'Driscoll's comments - about the alleged eye gouge, on this occasion, rather than his perceived character assassination of a beautiful country - even sparked an opinion piece from Kiwi rugby scribe Kevin Norquay (who brilliantly dissected the boring nature of the Six Nations a couple of months back).

Norquay writes:

Could New Zealand sports fans be so colour blind they can't see failings by athletes in black, yet little good in those clad in (let's say) gold and green?

Pyschological studies indicate the answer to that question is yes, but they can't help it; being a sports fan gives you a deep emotional investment in the outcome of something ultimately quite meaningless.

If love of black sends us blind, we're not alone.

So thank god for match officials, who at least should be impartial. And they found Franks, not noted as a dirty player, had no case to answer.

Cue complaints about favourable treatment for All Blacks from across the world, one from Irishman Brian O'Driscoll, the fabulously talented centre who was invalided out of the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour after a nasty spear tackle from Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu.

Again, it seems O'Driscoll's comments cause Norquay to explore some sort of greater meaning, but in fairness he pulls another excellent article from within - suggesting that, while O'Driscoll's comments might have subconsciously stemmed from an 11-year-old injustice, the Kiwi fans attacking the Irish legend simply prove his point:

If sports fans on the stuff website are representative, many feel O'Driscoll should get over himself and stop whining about the tackle that destroyed the most important tour of his life in 2005.

So his comments were not taken objectively, and probably were not made objectively either.

Fan reaction is in no way indicative of sporting justice. Howling louder doesn't make you right. Calling someone a whinger for complaining after losing smacks of a closed mind.

He's well able to stir the pot, is Brian O'Driscoll. Those Autumn tests in Dublin and Chicago just got a little spicier.

[Stuff]

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