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.
It was hard not to salivate over a seven-pointer which put Ireland into a 20-10 lead and showed that the hard-working O'Driscoll is still one of the best open-field attackers in the world.
Ronan O'Gara's midfield pass invited his captain onto the ball at speed and he needed no second invitation as he punctured a hole in the French defence, powering past Lionel Beauxis and Florian Fritz.
His final step in off his left, which saw him fool Julien Malzieu the final defender, brought back memories of O'Driscoll's effort for the Lions against the Wallabies on the 2001 tour.
"It's not the be all and end all but it's nice to get on the scoresheet now and then, just to remind yourself you're still capable of it," O'Driscoll admitted, in the aftermath of the French game.
Combining defensive grit and attacking verve in a game full of open, running rugby, Ireland grabbed tries through Jamie Heaslip, O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy to open the Championship with a stylish win.
They had nothing easy, however, as this was a French side that played to the best of their ability on their day and O'Driscoll's men had to show their battling qualities all the way until the final whistle.
"You play the best teams in the world, they tend to not let you have a free run at it even if things are going reasonably well for you.
"France showed that they had plenty of fight. It was a big penalty that we got in the last couple of minutes after conceding the second drop goal (from Beauxis).
"On the whole, it was a very pleasing win for us," added the Ireland skipper.
Losing at Croke Park in 2007 to the French, following a last-gasp try from winger Vincent Clerc, had been a harsh lesson for Ireland but one they evidently took on board.
O'Driscoll said: "The way we reacted after that drop goal typified a team that had learnt a lot from two years ago.
"The way we hunted them down, we didn't give it up to them easily. Jamie (Heaslip) got the steal and Rog was able to pop the penalty over and give us a little bit of breathing space.
"Maybe there was a little bit of knowledge in the team that we had it, when it came down to it, second time around."
Played one, won one is a heartening start to the 2009 RBS 6 Nations for Declan Kidney's men. But O'Driscoll, who has come so close over the years to that prized title and Grand Slam, understandably wants expectations to be kept at a reasonable level.
"Granted, it's France and they're top class opposition but at the same time let's not get carried away with ourselves," he said.
"You can't win a Six Nations in the first game but essentially, I suppose, you can lose it.
"We're where we want to be. We've played one game, we've won one game and we're happy with our performance.
"We'll enjoy it for a few hours tonight and we'll get on with Italy tomorrow. It's as simple as that."