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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 24 November, 2014

BOD and D’Arce: The changing faces of Ireland’s greatest ever centre partnership

Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy will line out for the final time together at Stade de France.

Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy will line out for the final time tomorrow in Paris.
Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy will line out for the final time tomorrow in Paris.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL AND Gordon D’Arcy will line out for the 56th and final time as Ireland’s midfield partnership this evening as they seek Six Nations glory in Paris.

The duo first appeared at inside and outside centre for Ireland in 2004, in a 36-15 win over Wales at Lansdowne Road. D’Arcy went on to be named Six Nations Player of the Tournament before falling victim to a knee injury. He returned in February 2005, featured on the Lions Tour to New Zealand and won his Irish jersey back for the November internationals.

O’Driscoll, an established star in the Irish set-up from 1999, was out of action with the shoulder injury he picked up on Lions duty at the Cake Tin. He came straight back into the Irish side in February 2006 and D’Arcy was waiting with a pop pass or two. The partnership flourished and began to pay off for Leinster as they ascended to the summit of European club rugby. A Grand Slam, three Heineken Cups and two league titles followed.

The pair have been forced to adapt their games over the years as the bursts of pace have tapered off, only to be replaced by putting teammates into try-scoring positions [see O'Driscoll to Simon Zebo last year] and pitching into rucks [see D'Arcy versus New Zealand in 2012 and 2013]. Here is a short pictorial to Ireland’s greatest ever midfield duo:

Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy

Celebrating a Heineken Cup triumph with Leinster in 2003.

Source: ©INPHO

Gordon D'Arcy, Brian O'Driscoll and Peter Stringer

D'Arcy keeps warm in 2004 while O'Driscoll hydrates.

Source: Andrew Paton/INPHO

Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy 29/1/2006

Grains of sand or milking a cow? Training with Ireland in 2006.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll 23/4/2006

An image seen a thousand times. D'Arcy's pop pass to O'Driscoll.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy

Celebrating the Grand Slam in 2009.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Gordon D'Arcy and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate

Heineken Cup winners, again.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy

Older and wiser but will they finish on a high against France?

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

French clash is about more than O’Driscoll’s farewell, say focused Ireland

Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien and other rugby stars say #thankyoubrian

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