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Ireland captain Keith Wood
"Brian was brilliant"
 real 28k

Sunday, 19 March, 2000, 18:55 GMT
Paris toasts Irish young-gun
O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll has the rugby world at his feet
Centre Brian O'Driscoll was hailed as Irish rugby's most exciting prospect after his hat-trick helped topple France in Paris on Sunday.


Brian deserves any amount of praise that you want to throw at him.

Ireland captain Keith Wood
O'Driscoll broke through the host's defence at almost every point of asking to help secure Ireland's first victory on French soil for 28 years.

Ireland captain Keith Wood led the praise.

"I'd like to say Brian should keep his feet on the ground but he shouldn't. This isn't the time for that," Wood said after the match.

"He should enjoy himself, it was a special day and he was brilliant."


Scelebrate
The Six Nations has again thrown up a major surprise
At just 21 O'Driscoll has the rugby world at his feet and if a British Lions Test side was being selected now - he would surely be an automatic choice.

Although second-half substitute David Humphreys won the game for Ireland with a 77th-minute penalty, it was O'Driscoll's magical skills that made a Six Nations Championship upset of seismic proportions possible.

Ireland had lost on their last 13 trips to Paris and never recorded a victory at Parc des Princes, where France played before moving to the 1998 soccer World Cup final venue.

Ireland last won in Paris in 1972, a 14-9 triumph at Stade Colombes, and they will savour every moment of this unexpected triumph.

'Great day'

Ireland coach Warren Gatland said: "This is a great day for Irish rugby and we will certainly enjoy ourselves.

"We came here two years ago and caught the French by surprise before losing narrowly, and last year in Dublin we had a kick in the final minute to win but unfortunately we missed it.



What annoys me most is that we have seven or eight players who are the best in the world in their position.

French coach Bernard Laporte
"Even though we were trailing at half-time we were reasonably happy and during the final 10 minutes I felt that the French were out on their feet."

While the Irish players left the ground to begin a night of celebration just 48 hours after St Patrick's day, the French camp were downcast.

They were without several star names, notably injured backs Thomas Castaignede, Christophe Dominici and Thomas Lombard, while flanker Olivier Magne was serving a suspension imposed for butting Scotland forward Stuart Reid two weeks ago.

French coach Bernard Laporte said: "We were missing a lot of players and because of this we lost, but I don't want to hide behind this fact out of respect to the people who played.

"We were on top for long periods but we did not score and couldn't get the necessary lead which would have prevented us from being exposed later on."

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See also:

18 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Healey hat-trick sparks Roman romp
17 Mar 00 | Six Nations
O'Driscoll treble seals historic win
19 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Welsh coach fights for job
18 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Woodward eyes Slam decider
Links to other Rugby Union stories are at the foot of the page.