10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Seriously though, it is a rigorous examination of concentration and memory and for a moment or two during the test I was transported be back to Mr. Byrne's class in primary school. You do have to have all your faculties to pass muster.
As for the blame game, I'm beginning to come round to the suggestion that Riki Flutey is the villain of the piece. If he had not tripped me, I think I would have collected the chip ahead comfortably and not found myself scrambling around unaware that I was about to become road-kill.
I'm not totally exonerating Paulie but there is mitigation involved in our collision.
Having asked Paulie to step into the breach and deliver the captain's speech at the post-match banquet in France, I felt it wasn't fair to do that to him again after the England game.
I went to the dinner, spoke and immediately left to go back to the team hotel in Chiswick. Given that I wasn't going to have a drink there were not too many pangs of conscience when I tucked into a burger.
I didn't really get a chance to talk to anyone at the dinner but that was probably as much to do with the way I was feeling after contracting a bug/virus prior to the match. I wasn't very talkative. Suppose I was happy enough just making the game, a minor achievement in my own head. I was thankful to see the rain because it slowed the game down a bit.
The illness was definitely a distraction and I was grateful to Paulie and Jamie (Heaslip), amongst others, who did most of the talking prior to the match. I think I managed to camouflage the fact that I wasn't feeling great on the pitch, reasonably well.
I found myself with a vested interest - I was looking for updates during the match - in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup match between St. Gerard's and St Michael's. I know the Gerard's winger Jett Desmond and had sent him a text after they beat Blackrock College in the previous round.
Having got past Terenure College and Blackrock, I thought Gerard's had a shot of getting to the final, which would have been a huge boost for the school. Unfortunately for the Bray school, it was not to be.
Related Links -
Brian's Blog - previous installments from the Ireland captain
www.bethedifference.ie - get your name on an Ireland player's jersey or give them a pre-match team talk
www.brianodriscoll.ie - Brian's brand new website with all his latest news