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Lions Tour: Brian O’Driscoll on going to battle with the Springboks in 2009

Twelve years on, Brian O’Driscoll nonetheless remembers the scenes within the run-down ready room at Pretoria Hospital. A queue of Lions gamers gathered for therapy. Closely bandaged limbs, blood loss and damaged bones.

First up within the working theatre was Adam Jones, who had suffered a dislocated shoulder. Gethin Jenkins was subsequent, ready to see a specialist about his fractured cheekbone and Tommy Bowe had an X-ray on his elbow.

O’Driscoll arrived individually together with his fellow centre Jamie Roberts. All battered and bruised by South African muscle. ‘Once you regarded round and noticed how many individuals have been in hospital for specialist check-ups, you realised the magnitude of the physicality,’ recalled O’Driscoll. ‘I used to be coping with a fuzzy head however it was a fairly downbeat place.

Former Lions star Brian O’Driscoll has regarded again on bruising encounters with South Africa

‘The physicality was an actual throwback to yesteryear. We misplaced each props and each centres to damage and it simply felt actually old style. Each shot in that sport was so robust, so bodily and so uncompromising. In that sort of fight, you needed to discover one other degree. It was gladiatorial.

‘At half-time, the adrenaline’s nonetheless pumping and also you don’t actually really feel it. You’ve at all times acquired knocks and bruises however they don’t come to the fore till a few hours after the sport, and even the subsequent day. I used to be 30 then and I used to be beginning to really feel it a bit extra. The physique felt battered and on prime of that I had my concussion. I used to be dominated out inside 24 hours. My cousin Barry O’Driscoll stated, “You’re simply less than these sort of collisions”.’

To today, the second Check at Loftus Versfeld is among the most punishing Assessments rugby has ever witnessed. Jenkins had a plastic plate inserted into his face, O’Driscoll was dominated out of the tour and Jones’ shoulder was finally manipulated again into its socket. It’s protected to say they weren’t prepared for the group safari on the Monday, with the three gamers all flown house early.

South Africa have been unrepentant. Lock Bakkies Botha was banned for 2 weeks for the shoulder cost that ended Jones’s collection, earlier than his team-mates wore ‘Justice 4 Bakkies’ armbands the next week. Their head coach, Peter de Villiers, defended flanker Schalk Burger for eye gouging Luke Fitzgerald inside the primary minute with flippant remarks about ballet and tutus.

O'Driscoll admitted he was taken aback by the 'uncompromising' physicality of the Springboks

O’Driscoll admitted he was bowled over by the ‘uncompromising’ physicality of the Springboks

The Lions suffered a number of injuries due to the unrepentant style of South Africa

The Lions suffered a lot of accidents because of the unrepentant type of South Africa 

‘They have been making an attempt to get loopy bodily with us from the off,’ stated O’Driscoll. ‘I keep in mind Bismarck du Plessis standing over me in a ruck and pretending to throw punches at me. We don’t want a rehash of the Burger incident however he acquired away with blue homicide. If that occurred now, it could be a sending-off. There’s extra scrutiny now, there’s extra cameras and there’s higher guarding in opposition to these incidents.’

Regardless of dropping the match — in addition to the collection — the Lions rolled with the punches. When Kyle Sinckler was known as up by Warren Gatland final month, the prop referenced the battle of Pretoria as a fixture that ignited his love for rugby. He even referenced O’Driscoll’s crunching hit that left Springbok lock Danie Rossouw unable to face again up.

‘The factor about those that attempt to bully you is, when you stand as much as them and bully them again, they quiet down,’ stated O’Driscoll. ‘That’s the way you get their respect. If you happen to succumb to that, they’ll by no means respect you. You’ve acquired to provide pretty much as good as you get.

‘Once I’m going to tackle a second row, I’ve acquired to catch them off guard. I’ve acquired to pre-empt the place the collision goes to be and hit them earlier than they see an eyeline of me coming in. If we each see it equally, there’s solely going to be one winner. I needed to blindside Rossouw, not let him see me coming and launch myself as onerous as I may. It was about making an attempt to make a mark and set a tone.

He urged the Lions not to allow the Springboks to bully them in their upcoming tour

He urged the Lions to not permit the Springboks to bully them of their upcoming tour

He warned Warren Gatland's side of their 'monstrosity of a pack' that could overpower them

He warned Warren Gatland’s facet of their ‘monstrosity of a pack’ that might overpower them

‘That Springbok group in ’09 — Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, John Smit, Jean de Villiers, Jacques Fourie — have been all huge, uncompromising guys. Despite the fact that I acquired concussed and went off, I look again on it very fondly. It was nice Lions rugby. Yeah, it could have been higher if we’d managed to win or draw. However we have been a good group and there have been no passengers. It was in all probability my favorite tour.’

Through the years, the Springbok system has not modified. Illegalities have been stamped out, however the mantle has now been handed on to the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Damian de Allende, who nonetheless possess the identical unique strands of DNA.

‘The Springboks nonetheless try this physicality finest,’ stated O’Driscoll, talking on behalf of Land Rover, an official sponsor of the Lions Tour to South Africa. ‘It’s their sport they usually’ve honed it for years. After they get it proper, they’re unplayable.

‘Their teaching ticket, Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber, are priming the group to convey a physicality the opposition can’t take care of. They’ve not performed a Check match for the reason that World Cup remaining in order that they’re not going to be enjoying an enormous, elaborate huge sport plan. They’re not going to play like Japan. They’ll do what they do finest. You need to roll your sleeves up and be prepared for fight.’

Land Rover is an Official Sponsor of the Lions Tour to South Africa. Maintain updated with Land Rover’s Lions Journey @LandRoverRugby #LionsAdventure

Land Rover is an Official Sponsor of the Lions Tour to South Africa. Maintain updated with Land Rover’s Lions Journey @LandRoverRugby #LionsAdventure

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