I don’t read a lot of sporting biographies, and I can’t recall reading one about a rugby union player, especially as I’m foremost a rugby league fan. Brian O’Driscoll, or BOD as he’s known, is a bit different though. The outstanding player of his generation, and the most-capped international ever, the Irish legend has always been worth watching.
His autobiography “The Test” is nothing special in literary terms, and nor is it ‘warts & all’ style, with O’Driscoll content to keep a lot of opinions to himself. In particular, apart from his admiration for various Leinster (Ica Nacewa, BOD loves you!!!) & Ireland players, he keeps his assessments of others to a minimum.
The best bits were his descriptions of particular tries, which are fascinating for a rugby aficionado. The complexities of breaking down a defence, the fine margins and luck involved are made clear. A great many rugby union fans would do well to read these sections given number of people that think the game was more skilful back in the 1980s or 90s. It wasn’t – defences were just disorganized and weak in comparison to today. He’s obviously taken a lot of technicalities on board from rugby league and talks about his admiration for the game, and a night out with Australian legend Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns in the book. Fair play to BOD, he also talks about some of the mistakes he made in big matches so you can’t accuse him of rewriting history.
Overall O’Driscoll seems a likeable, rather than fascinating, character, and his autobiography reflects that. He did however fulfil his considerable potential as a rugby player, and not many as talented as he can say that.