|Brian O'Driscoll and his wife, actress Amy Huberman|
Brian O’Driscoll sat down with the Irish sports media on Tuesday and offered a lesson in life that most of us will ignore completely for the remaining three weeks of the Six Nations season.
Facing the press for the first time since his wife Amy gave birth to baby daughter Sadie on the morning of the England game, Brian was in the room to talk only rugby.
His PR advisers had made that much clear in their emails before the Adidas media briefing, telling the news desks to stay away and confirming that no baby talk would be allowed on the day.
But, rugby god that he is, Brian O’Driscoll is also a human being like the rest of us, and the recent addition to his life has put everything into a new perspective for Ireland’s former captain.
Children do that to you. All of a sudden, sport becomes something less than a matter of life or death as many before him have discovered.
Parenthood and its ability to change his life and attitude completely was also something he had to talk about, despite those PR warnings!
Confirming that he has postponed all discussion about his own playing future until after the season ends, O’Driscoll did admit that fatherhood has added a new dimension to his thinking.
He said, “Priorities change in a couple of ways because obviously you want to look after your family. At the same time, for a long time, rugby was the be all and end all. And it absolutely isn’t that way now.
“There is a huge priority swing with my daughter coming. I’ve seen it in other guys in the past and I’m sure there’ll be other guys in the future.
“Even the defeat at the weekend, it was very painful. But when you go home to your wife and your daughter, you’re able to shelve that part of your life and be happy in your own world. It’s 100 percent a positive, that side of things.
“I didn’t go into that game thinking I need to be careful because I have someone to look after. That side of your game doesn’t change.
“It just gives you a bigger perspective on life in general, understanding what’s important. And yeah, family is most important.”
The Leinster and Ireland star went on to all but absolve coach Declan Kidney of all blame for his national team’s ills of late, but his words will only fire the debate over Kidney’s future, not quench it.
And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe we all take our sport a little too seriously when it comes to rugby players or football players in green shirts, or those who play for our clubs and our counties.
Just as the knives are pointing at Kidney right now, they will shift attention to Giovanni Trapattoni when he brings his own Ireland team to Sweden at the end of the month, a topic discussed frequently on this page.
Kidney, as Dricco pointed out on Tuesday, didn’t play for Ireland last Sunday in Scotland. Trap is Italian and 73 and can’t play for Ireland in Sweden at the end of the month, even if he wanted to.
Yet both men will have their lives and their careers dissected on this and many other pages in the coming weeks. Both coaches will be scrutinized very publicly and very critically.
That is the life they choose and a life that has rewarded them well, on and off the field.
But, as Brian O’Driscoll is now discovering, there is another life, a life away from professional sports and all the demands that go with it.
O’Driscoll will have plenty of time for his actress wife and his young daughter in the near future, no matter what path he goes down this coming summer.
Even if he stays on as a professional rugby player next season, he will have enough spare time to dote on the two most important women in his life.
For now, as he alluded to in this week’s press conference, he can close the front door of his Dublin pad, pick his daughter up in his arms and forget about rugby and Murrayfield and the Six Nations defeat last Sunday that effectively ended Ireland’s season.
What happens outside O’Driscoll’s front door is important. It will always be important.
But it won’t ever again be all that matters in life for our greatest ever rugby player. Rugby will never again act as the be all and end all for Brian O’Driscoll.
As the clamor grows for Kidney’s head, the rest of us may be well advised to heed that lesson.
And when I start ranting about Trap and my beloved soccer team a few weeks from now before their make or break game in Sweden, you might well remind me of that lesson.
Funnily enough, I have a feeling I will forget all about it if we lose in Stockholm and another World Cup qualification bid slips by.
Maybe that’s because my kids have long outgrown the nappies that now dominate Dricco’s home life!
(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin)