Brian O'Driscoll's world record 141st and last test match ended with a victory lap of honour around the Stade de France in Paris as Ireland won the Six Nations' Championship for only the second time since 1985 in a dramatic finale, beating France 22-20 to win the tournament.
The eminent Dubliner has a few weeks remaining of his farewell season, in which he will bid to add a fourth Heineken Cup with his province Leinster to his many achievements - even though he admitted regret here at the one that got away, a win over the All Blacks, against whom O'Driscoll played 14 times and lost the lot, most recently last November. "You can't have it all," he said, "and there's a great sense of happiness to finish on a high after so many nearlys."
And in helping Ireland to pip England to this Six Nations title on points difference, in the very stadium where he first grabbed global attention with three tries 14 years ago, O'Driscoll exited the test stage with a Palladium-sized dollop of the theatrical.
Among the incidents and accidents of a scoreless last quarter, the referee Steve Walsh used television replays to disallow a French try two minutes from time, and Ireland used their favourite choke-tackle to halt the mighty Sebastien Vahaamahina, sealing only their second win in Paris since 1972; the other had been on O'Driscoll's hat-trick day in 2000.
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Earlier, England gave themselves a chance to claim the title relying on a French win following a 52-11 win over Italy in Rome. Owen Farrell amassed 22 points and Mike Brown added two tries but it all accounted for nothing as they finished second on the table. In yesterday's other game Wales thrashed Scotland 51-3, running in seven tries as the deposed champions' ended a patchy campaign in style.