British & Irish Lions: Gatland right all along by dropping O'Driscoll

If it meant depriving Brian O'Driscoll a glorious goodbye, then so it has to be. Forget BOD. In Warren we trust.

British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones celebrates victory.
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Brian who? Warren Gatland was right all along. Sentiment is way overrated. Never doubted him.
If it needed 10 Welshmen to do the job, so be it. If it needed to be prosaic, one-dimensional, Warren-ball, then so what? They don't draw pictures on the scoreboard, especially not in Lions series.
And if it meant depriving Brian O'Driscoll a glorious goodbye, then so it has to be. Forget BOD. In Warren we trust.
For the next four years, the heartless, blinkered, biased head coach of the 2013 British & Irish Lions has a little bit of ammunition for the legion of doubters on either side of the world. It starts with: check the scoreboard. And ends there, too.
There is a lot to be said for playing dispassionate rugby. The O'Driscoll-less Lions nailed it. In contrast the Wallabies, who were too busy getting misty-eyed over the fond farewell for their departing great George Smith, subsided meekly.
That most ruthless of sporting nations let it all get to them. It took a whole eight seconds for the pressure to tell, as Will Genia, the mini-giant widely regarded as the world's leading player, dithered over catching the kick off. Genia doesn't do dithering. Ever.
Over the course of the next 79 minutes, rarely did it get any better for the home side.
They were battered at the scrum. The referee would not spare them even a modicum of sympathy. Their leading player was dropping kick offs. The Big Show on the wing, Israel Folau, fell foul of a nondescript hamstring injury.
It was as if the lights had gone out on Smith's leaving do before any of the guests had even arrived.
Almost a little too literally. The folly of bringing back Smith, nearly four years after his most recent Test, almost mattered for nothing anyway, after he was knocked out in the fifth minute.
According to Jim Rosenthal, the OSN television anchorman, Smith was so cool about his high-stakes swansong that he had a stint in the hotel sauna on the morning of the game. So cool he needed to defrost.
He could have done with dunking his head into a bucket of ice after a sickening head clash with Richard Hibbard, the Lions hooker.
Smith could barely walk has he went off for his concussion test. The 84,000 people in the stadium and millions watching on TV could have done the doctor's job for him. Smith was never coming back from that - and yet he did. It smacked of desperation.
Quite what Michael Hooper, who Smith had replaced for this finale, had done so wrong, is not clear. The young openside flanker was clearly unfancied.
But making it all about Smith was a huge error for the home team. It has to be about more than one man - O'Driscoll will tell you that much.
It is supposed to be about much more, especially for the touring team. It is supposed to be about four nations coming together and excelling as one.
Which is all a bit romantic and quaint. And obviously the Lions do not really bother with that much.
As early as the 17th minute, hymns and arias were echoing around ANZ Stadium. The Welsh anthems rarely faded and that was apt. This success was made in Wales - albeit with a gruff New Zealander as the mastermind.
Alun Wyn Jones (Lions)
Perfection. Ice on the mind, fire in the belly, Vaseline on his scalp and stitches in his head. Plus every ounce of perspiration he had in him poured onto the ANZ field. Was it worth it? You would think. Captaining the Lions to a series victory. It does not get much better.

Sean O'Brien (Lions)
While all the kerfuffle raged over the omission of one Irishman from the final Test, another slipped quietly into the No 7 shirt. O'Brien made 15 tackles in an hour, mostly in glorious anonymity. He totally gatecrashed George Smith's return to the party.

Wales (Lions)
Alex Corbisiero scores a try and the stadium breaks into a rendition of Bread of Heaven. Such is the way of British & Irish Lions tours. Four nations may add up to one Lions - but the 2013 Lions have undeniably played with a Welsh accent.
Robbie Deans (Australia)
Who loses a series to the Lions, really? And a series decider by 25 points? Honestly? The charisma-free New Zealander was already unpopular in Australia. Now? He should get a one-way ticket back to New Zealand and stay there until it all blows over.
Israel Folau (Australia)
Australia's newest sporting superstar ended his breakthrough series in international rugby union in the most depressing fashion, succumbing to a hamstring injury before he had had a chance to make an impact. and was substituted in the first half.
Ben Alexander (Australia)
The fall guy for the overall capitulation of the Wallabies scrum. Having been beasted by the Lions front row, Alexander was sin-binned in the 25th minute. He never emerged again. Not that Australia were better for it.