Rugby

Umaga, O'Driscoll bury hatchet

2013-03-20 12:18
Brian O'Driscoll (File)

Hong Kong - Ex-All Blacks captain Tana Umaga on Wednesday said he'd made peace with Brian O'Driscoll over his infamous 2005 Lions tour spear tackle - but suggested the row was overplayed by British spin doctors.

The New Zealand great said he'd "buried the hatchet" with Ireland's O'Driscoll, the then Lions captain whose tour ended when he was picked up and dumped head-first to the deck just seconds into the first Test.

"As you can see he obviously got over it, he's back playing," said Umaga, who carried out the tackle with team-mate Keven Mealamu, dislocating the Irish centre's shoulder.

"We've buried the hatchet. We've spoken a couple of times and have bumped into each other," added the 39-year-old, during a coaching stint at the Hong Kong Tens rugby tournament.

The tackle sparked a war of words between the New Zealanders and the Lions, with O'Driscoll calling it a "cheap shot" and reportedly complaining about Umaga's lack of apology at the time.

An independent citing commissioner ruled that the All Black pair had no case to answer, further angering O'Driscoll and then Lions coach Clive Woodward.

Some commentators in New Zealand suggested that the Lions camp was trying to divert attention from the side's poor performance in New Zealand, where they lost all three Tests against the rampant home side.

"We moved on, obviously (we) did very well in that series and it (the row) is a bit disappointing, but it's obviously what they wanted to achieve," Umaga said.

"They probably wanted something to override their disappointing performance over there."

O'Driscoll is in disciplinary hot water of his own this week as he is facing a citing hearing on Wednesday for stamping on Simone Favaro in Ireland's 22-15 Six Nations defeat by Italy.

The 34-year-old was playing what is thought to have been his last game for Ireland. He is tipped to announce his international retirement after this year's Lions tour to Australia.

Saturday's yellow card was only the second of a glittering 14-year career, including 125 caps for Ireland.

Read more on:    brian o'driscoll  |  rugby
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