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26th Mar 2024

Brian O’Driscoll on player that hit him with biggest tackle of his career

Patrick McCarry


You could see O’Driscoll wince as he recalled who hit him the hardest.

Brian O’Driscoll name-checked a former Saracens and England forward, but picked an outhalf as the player that truly rattled his cage.

O’Driscoll played 133 times for Ireland, eight times for the British & Irish Lions and 186 times for Leinster. It is safe to say that he has a large pool of opposition players and incidents to choose from as, a few years back, he recalled some of the highlights of his distinguished career.

When asked who was the toughest individual opponent that he had ever faced in his career, O’Driscoll paused for a moment before telling Vision Sport that former England flanker and world cup winner, Richard Hill, was the ‘hardest’ player that he had ever played against.

“Richard Hill, England No.6 that won the World Cup in 2003, who’s now England manager. He was a brilliant teammate but he made that team tick, he was the unsung hero in that world cup win. He was hard! I always liked playing with guys that were nails in the team, that really stood up and never took a backwards step.”

O’Driscoll played both with and against Hill in the early stages of the Irishman’s career. They played with each other during the 2001 Lions Tour of Australia, which as we all know, was where O’Driscoll announced himself on the world stage.

Hill was appointed by England head coach, Eddie Jones, to the position of team manager, when the Australian took over from Stuart Lancaster in 2016.

Richard Hill
Former Saracens and England forward, Richard Hill. (Credit: Sportsfile)

Brian O’Driscoll on hardest tackle he received

It was during this game in fact, that Brian O’Driscoll received the hardest hit of his glittering 15-year career, a game many remember for Martin Johnson and his team standing on the incorrect side of the red carpet before the match began, an act that ultimately led to President Mary McAleese having to walk on the grass.

O’Driscoll answers quite abruptly when questioned on what was the toughest tackle he ever had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of.

“Jonny Wilkinson…I couldn’t walk for two days!”

The tackle occurred at the end of England’s 42-6 drubbing of Ireland, in the 2003 Six Nations.

O’Driscoll was running in full flight with the ball before receiving an admittedly, innocuous looking challenge from the English out half.


O’Driscoll has previously referred to this tackle ‘like being cut in two’ and it’s actually possible to see why.

Wilkinson puts a lot of power into his wrap as his left arm shudders into the midriff of Ireland’s talismanic 13, who was forced to leave the field after this tackle.


To make matters worse, England turn the ball over soon after and score another try through a fresh-faced Will Greenwood.

Another reason to banish that game from our memories.


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