2004 might not sound like another world, but it is 16 years ago. It was a time of baggy jerseys, shaggy hairstyles, and the television apex of George Hook. Ireland were also playing free-flowing, expansive, scintillating rugby. A lot has changed in 16 years.
On the second episode of Balls.ie's new "This Week In..." podcast, we look back at 2004, when, among other things, Ireland beat Scotland to win their first Triple Crown in 19 years. Eddie O'Sullivan's team had lost in Paris in the first game of the Six Nations, but played themselves into brilliant form, hammering Wales and Italy, and beating world champions England at their Twickenham homecoming, before seeing off Matt Williams' Scotland.
The centre partnership of D'Arcy and O'Driscoll had lit up the Championship. Far from the elite, rock solid midfield that attacking coaches wouldn't be able to break down for a generation to come, this version of Leinster and Ireland's 12/13 combo played with an attacking, line-breaking joie de vivre that defences just weren't able to handle all those years ago. D'Arcy rounded up a fine Championship by scoring two tries and picking up man of the match against Scotland.
Of course, after the game and the trophy presentation, it was time to talk to the man of the match, alongside his centre partner and captain. What followed was truly one of the great post match interviews.
- Michael Lyster doing post match interviews for rugby was a welcome surprise.
- Brian O'Driscoll's hair is very "2004"
- Brian O'Driscoll is incredibly giddy from the very start and all the way through about the planned gag playing out so beautifully.
- Gordon D'Arcy's a brilliant straight man. Unlike O'Driscoll, he delivered his sups with perfect timing, and an always straight face. This in turn cracked up O'Driscoll more.
- Hook's Hooch was genuinely funny.
- It wasn't as funny as Tom McGuirk thought it was.
- This panel is very much a different world to what we have now. And that's mainly good, but also a bit shit.
You can listen to us talk about this and a whole lot more on "This Week In...2004", our new podcast looking back on this week in a random sporting year. We cover Ireland's triple crown, and probably the maddest Champions League of all time, and Padraig Harrington's near miss at the Players' Championship. You can listen to the show below or subscribe and listen here, or by searching Balls.ie wherever get your podcasts.