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Brian O’Driscoll

Commonwealth Games 2014The 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 .

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Zane Kirchner scores his side's opening try 31/5/2014

Zane Kirchner was in fine form for Leinster

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.

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SIX-NationsIt 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.

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Brian O'DriscollHis 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.

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firstaidThe 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.

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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.

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