Brian O’Driscoll has revealed details of a previously unknown arrest for assault in New York in 2008, and written about how he almost gave up the Irish captaincy in a moment of low confidence.
In extracts from his autobiography, The Test, serialised in the Sunday Times, O’Driscoll speaks candidly about how he was affected by the death of his close friend Barry Twomey in 2008.
O’Driscoll reveals that the arrest happened several weeks after Twomey’s death when he was in New York with a group of friends, including his former Leinster and Ireland team-mate Shane Horgan, in 2008.
After one of his friends became involved in an altercation with a man following an REM concert in Madison Square Garden, the man tried to hit O’Driscoll’s friend, who put up an arm in self-defence.
“The guy runs straight into it and drops, like a newborn lamb,” O’Driscoll writes. “He’s picking himself up off the floor when his friends arrive on the scene. There’s three of them, a couple and another guy, all screaming: “Security! Security!”
After the incident O’Driscoll was followed around Manhattan by one of the man’s friends, who eventually called the New York Police Department and claimed that it was O’Driscoll who had committed the assault. He was then arrested and taken to a midtown precinct.
“They put me in a cell,” he writes. “Three-quarters of an hour passes. My head races, wondering how long it’s going to take.”
The arrest happened early in the hours of a Friday morning, and O’Driscoll was aware that if he were not released on Friday it would mean spending the weekend in jail.
He continued: “Around 12 o’clock they call my name. As I walk out someone objects to my big moment.
"“F***, man! You must know some peoples! You’re right down the list – you should be in for the weekend!”
From there he was taken first to a holding cell then to court, where he pleaded not guilty. It was seven months later, just before the 2009 Six Nations Championship, before the charges were finally dropped.
In the extracts, O’Driscoll also talks about the experience of being dropped from the match-day squad for the final Lions Test against Australia in 2013, and insists that the team would still have won the game had he been playing.
“I feel different emotions watching the 41-16 win. Foxy [Jonathan Davies] has played well, Jamie has scored a good try," writes O'Driscoll.
"But I’ve got to believe I could have had some of those moments myself, that we’d still have won with me on the pitch.”
He recalls being called into the team room by head coach Warren Gatland and assistant coach Rob Howley and Gatland then telling him, “We don’t have a place for you this weekend.”
O’Driscoll also recalls that during the 2008 tour of Australia and New Zealand he felt the Irish captaincy was slipping away from him and had decided to tell then head coach Declan Kidney that he wanted to give up the captaincy.
“I decide that I won’t let coach Declan Kidney make the decision for me," he writes. "Once the tour is over, the first time I see him, I’ll come out with it.”
O'Driscoll also goes on to talk about the work he did with former Armagh All-Ireland football winner and sports psychologist Enda McNulty, and the important part his work with McNulty played in O’Driscoll regaining his form from late 2008.