Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll has been named as the greatest captain in the history of the Guinness Six Nations by some of his former peers.
As part of the BBC’s new Six Nations Greatest podcast, former Wales skipper Sam Warbuton and ex-England scrum-half Danny Care ran the rule over some of the best players to have worn the armband in the Championship.
Coming out on top was O’Driscoll, who saw off competition from Martin Johnson, Alun Wyn Jones, Fabien Pelous, Warburton and Dylan Hartley.
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O’Driscoll led Ireland for nine years, from 2003 until 2012, and captained them to only their second Grand Slam – and their first in 61 years – in 2009.
The great centre led from the front that year, with him being named Player of the Championship following his team’s triumph, having previously won that accolade in both 2006 and 2007.
In total, O’Driscoll skippered his country in 41 Six Nations matches, winning 31 of them and losing just 10.
Warburton said: “He got a Grand Slam, did it for nine years, was player of the tournament three times, which I know is an individual accolade but that would have been inspirational, and also won four Triple Crowns.”
Coming second to O’Driscoll was Johnson, who captained England to a Grand Slam in 2003 – following several near misses – the same year in which he led the Red Rose to World Cup glory.
Care said: “He epitomised everything it took to be a captain – he led by example and never had a bad game.
“When England played well, he was running around melting people and leading by example.”
Wales talisman Jones is the only current player to have made the shortlist, although he is sidelined for this year’s Guinness Six Nations due to injury.
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The most-capped player in the history of international rugby came in at third, having skippered Wales to a Grand Slam – his third as a player – in 2019 and a Championship in 2021.
Another multiple Grand Slam winner was fourth in Pelous, with France’s clean sweep in 2004 being the fourth he had played a part in, while he also led Les Bleus to the title in 2006.
Warburton himself came fifth, having captained Wales, aged just 23, to a Grand Slam in 2012 and he played a part in his nation’s Championship triumph in 2013, even though he missed the title-clinching victory over England.
Completing the list was Hartley, who led England to their most recent Grand Slam in 2016, with only a defeat against Ireland in their final game preventing them from repeating that feat the following year.