Although it was another tournament where we failed to make the quarter finals, the 2003 World Cup was relatively successful for Eddie O’Sullivan’s side.
Expectations were lower than they are in 2021, and when the side almost beat Eddie Jones’ Australia, it was seen as a loss Ireland could be proud of.
The tournament will also be remembered for the performances of Brian O’Driscoll. The Ireland #13 showed time and time again in Australia why he was considered the best centre in the world and one of the best players of his generation.
These performances culminated in an outstanding individual performance in the 43-21 quarter-final loss to France, with BOD finishing the game with a highlight reel of spectacular individual plays.
This was the blonde hair, green rugby glove-era BOD. An era that began in 2003 and ended when he was dumped on his head during the 2005 Lions Tour. BOD at his physical peak.
His score against Australia during the group stages is one of the best finishes we’ve ever seen at the World Cup as he shrugged off two defenders and dotted down in the tightest of spaces.
Scoring memorable tries against Australia and France was one of O’Driscoll’s favourite hobbies throughout his career, but he was always more than just a try scorer.
His performance against France showed the vast array of footballing talents he possessed. Specifically it was one passage of play in the first half with Ireland trailing 7-0.
Rougerie had unlocked centre Tony Marsh with a brilliant pass, who then left Girvan Dempsey for dead. He seemed en route to a certain try, only for O'Driscoll to come from nowhere and hunt down the France #13.
His try saving tackle on Tony Marsh not only shows his pace and hunger, but also his breakdown ability after he springs back to his feet and wins the turnover. At his best it was always said that BOD could have played 7.
Also on display are his kicking skills and again his world-class finishing ability. It was without a doubt one of the most complete World Cup performances ever by a centre.