This Patrick’s weekend marked the fairytale ending to Brian O’Driscoll’s career. O’Driscoll went out a champion as he helped Ireland to the RBS Six Nations title in the nail-biting 22-20 win over France in the Stade De France in Paris.
It was a fitting place for O’Driscoll to end his international career as it was in the same stadium 14 years ago in which he exploded on to the international scene. His hat-trick helped Ireland to their first victory in Paris in 28 years.
And so last Saturday it all ended as O’Driscoll got his second victory in Paris and Ireland’s second victory in Paris in 42 years.
However another legend of Irish rugby bowed out on Saturday, Gordon D’Arcy’s Beard. The Beard has starred for Leinster and Ireland throughout this season after it’s sensational debut last September.
The beard had developed something of a cult following this season with some even suggesting the Beard has taken on a life of its own and even coincided with a dramatic rise in form.
By his own high standards, D’Arcy had a Six Nations to forget in 2013. Having started the opening two rounds against Wales and England, D’Arcy was overlooked in favour of Luke Marshall for the remaining three games.
He then didn’t feature in Ireland in their summer tour of the USA and Canada and wasn’t selected for the Lions tour of Australia.
This led to many believing that D’Arcy’s powers were waning and that his days in the green jersey were numbered.
Enter The Beard
This season saw the debut of Gordon D’Arcy’s Beard and a return to form for the Wexford man. D’Arcy’s magnificent new beard inspired Leinster to 5 wins out of 6 in Pool 1 of the Heineken Cup as Leinster eased through to the quarter finals.
However his Beard also marked D’Arcy’s return to the green jersey. He featured in the November Internationals in the 40-9 victory over Samoa before sitting out the disappointing defeat to Australia as Luke Marshall again took D’Arcy’s place in the number 12 shirt.
However Ireland’s poor showing against the Aussies prompted changes and the return of the Beard for the clash with New Zealand. D’Arcy and Ireland performed brilliantly but ultimately suffered an agonising defeat as the All Blacks overturned a 19-0 deficit to win 24-22 with a last minute Ryan Crotty try.
Although the hearts of a nation were broken, many Irish players came in for huge praise but in particular the performance of D’Arcy and his Beard.
Such was the form of D’Arcy’s and his Beard, that the pair started all of Ireland’s games in this year’s Six Nations. They played a starring role as Joe Schmidt’s men won this year’s title.
End of the Beard
However, following the long celebrations in to the Paris night, distressing news regarding the well being of D’Arcy’s Beard began to emerge the day after Ireland’s triumph over France.
Twitter became alive as photos began to emerge of D’Arcy’s Beard being shaved. Photo’s appeared to show Jonathan Sexton as the culprit who robbed D’Arcy of his Beard.
Sexto gets to shave the beast !!! FINALLY pic.twitter.com/XgCvjZvt3Z
— Cian Healy (@ProperChurch) March 15, 2014
Finally it was Brian O’Driscoll which confirmed many beard aficionados worst fears as he tweeted a photo of the pair with D’Arcy sporting his new clean shaven look.
As D’Arcy and the team arrived in Dublin Airport many onlookers were baffled as to the non-appearance of the Beard. Tributes have poured in throughout the day from both fans and friends of the Beard.
Heartbroken to wake up to the news that this country has lost one of it’s finest. Gordon Darcy’s beard, we’ll miss you more than you know. — icantgoforthat (@Holly_Rose_) March 16, 2014
Really emotional. It’s the end of an era. Cannot believe we’ll never see Gordon D’arcy’s Beard in an Irish shirt again. 🙁 #6nations
— Colm Tobin (@colmtobin) March 15, 2014
And so to the future. It appears that D’Arcy will continue in his rugby career alone with the Beard being consigned to the past. This now could prove a worrying time for Ireland and Leinster fans as not only will they lose O’Driscoll but they have also been rocked by the sudden loss of the Beard.
Fans will hope that D’Arcy’s form continues in to the post Beard/O’Driscoll era with the 2015 Rugby World Cup on the horizon. They will pray that his powers will remain and that D’Arcy will not go the way of Samson with the loss of his hair (on his face) costing him his strength.
Well here’s hoping…..
Can Ireland survive without Gordon D’Arcy’s Beard? Comment and let us know your thoughts.