The rugby year has not pegged out just yet but, even before the first of the thunderous 1872 Cup clashes between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the sport seems to have lapsed into reflective mode.
So, too, your correspondent, croaking towards 2014’s finishing line in a clapped-out but generally contented frame of mind. So when the stockings have been hung, I shall allow myself a few moments of rheumy-eyed and entirely random reflection on what made this twelve-month memorable .
It was a solemn farewell for Brian O’Driscoll but an electric Zane Kirchner ensured the Leinster legend bowed out with back-to-back RaboDirect PRO12 titles.
O’Driscoll, playing in his last professional match, was forced off the pitch early on at a sun-soaked RDS but Kirchner lifted Leinster spirits with a try before setting up Shane Jennings in the first half.
Finn Russell ensured Glasgow Warriors were never too far off the pace with an accurate kicking display but Kirchner crossed over again late on before Gordon D’Arcy completed the scoring to make it 34-12.
It has been a fantastic Six Nations and one that had a fairytale ending as Ireland handed Brian O’Driscoll the perfect retirement present by beating France to win the title.
The nail-biting victory in Paris meant Ireland took the championship ahead of England on points difference.
The two teams have been the form sides in the competition and although a few French and Welsh players showed well, it is the top two who naturally provide the bulk of my Team of the Tournament for 2014.
Brian O’Driscoll wants the emotion of his final Test to propel Ireland to the Six Nations title in Paris on Saturday.
Ireland’s points difference of 81 is likely to mean any win over France will seal their first title since 2009, but England and France could deny them.
His legs may be growing weary but the Wallabies are wary of Irish great Brian O’Driscoll’s rugby brain in this weekend’s Test of character in Dublin.
O’Driscoll is into his 15th and final season for Ireland as he prepares for his 135th Test cap and last battle with Australia at the old Lansdowne Road.
Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones will captain the Lions in the final Test against Australia on Saturday after Brian O’Driscoll was dropped from the squad. Irishman O’Driscoll was favourite to replace injured skipper Sam Warburton.
Ireland wing Simon Zebo will make his British and Irish Lions debut against New South Wales Waratahs on Saturday. Zebo joined the squad as cover on Tuesday and goes straight into a strong side containing up to a dozen likely Test contenders.
Stuart Hogg has been switched to flyhalf as one of three British and Irish Lions to play their second consecutive tour match in four days against a Combined Queensland-New South Wales Country team on Tuesday.
Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll will captain the British and Irish Lions in their first tour game in Australia, against Western Force in Perth on Wednesday.
The 23-man team contains eight new Lions.
Brian O’Driscoll ended speculation about his future by signing a new one-year deal to play on for Ireland and Leinster, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) revealed on Thursday.
The first weekend of Six Nations 2013 has come and gone with two of the results as expected by many as Ireland and England claimed victories over Wales and Scotland respectively. The final match of the weekend saw Italy score what was seen as a surprise victory over France in Rome.
The intensity of the games took their toll though with various injuries incurred by the teams. We bring some of the news from the various squads regarding the injuries and player availability.
Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll was among several senior players restored by Declan Kidney to the starting XV for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales in Cardiff.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll is on course to feature in the Six Nations tournament after returning to training with Leinster following ankle surgery.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has revealed that he will not take part in the 2015 World Cup in England as it is “18 months too far.”
Ireland skipper Brian O’Driscoll and hooker Rory Best have been ruled out of the forthcoming autumn international series because of injuries.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll fancies a Super Rugby stint before he retires, with the Waratahs favourites to secure his signature.
Declan Kidney has picked three uncapped players for the 1st Test with New Zealand in Auckland, with Simon Zebo and Declan Fitzpatrick both starting and Ronan Loughrey on the bench. Keith Earls faces the unenviable task of stopping Sonny Bill Williams at inside centre, with Dan Tuohy and Donnacha Ryan forming a new look second row partnership. Brian O’Driscoll captains the side.
Brian O’Driscoll handed Leinster a major boost after declaring himself fit for the all-Irish European Cup final against Ulster at Twickenham on Saturday.