Ireland would prefer a 2018 World Cup, says O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll says Six Nations Grand Slam winners Ireland would prefer it if the Rugby World Cup was taking place later this year, rather than in 2019.
Under the guidance of Joe Schmidt, Ireland claimed a clean sweep of wins in the Six Nations for only the second time last month, completing the feat with a 24-15 victory over England at Twickenham.
O'Driscoll, who captained Ireland to Grand Slam glory in 2009, was hugely impressed, but knows much can change between now and next September, when the World Cup gets under way in Japan.
"I thought they were very worthy Grand Slam winners," HSBC ambassador O'Driscoll told Omnisport.
"In an ideal world, would we prefer to have the World Cup this September? Yes, we would, because of where we feel we're at versus the rest of the world.
"But 18 months is a long time in international rugby. It will give other teams an opportunity to build on the work they've done.
"South Africa won't be the side that they currently are in 18 months' time; they always get it together for a World Cup. France seem to be a side that will definitely improve. Wales have a lot of injuries, but still coped quite well during the Six Nations and, on another day, could have beaten Ireland.
"England are not going to be as disappointing as they were in this year's Six Nations, so there's lots of teams that have time to be able to right their wrongs in terms of recent form and make sure that they peak come Japan 2019."
O'Driscoll was speaking ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens and expressed his admiration for players who compete in the format.
"Those that have that extra mental edge, that can go the extra yard, they are the ones who are the game-breakers," he added. "So many games are decided in the last play of the game, or the last 30 seconds.
"It must take such a toll on your body, to keep performing multiple times. That in itself takes an awful lot of mental strength and mental durability.
"I have huge respect for them, because ultimately they're willing to get into a really dark place where most athletes, or certainly a huge amount of rugby players, would struggle to get to."
As a long-term supporter of Rugby Sevens, HSBC is committed to working alongside World Rugby to achieve their shared goal of growing the sport worldwide. The creation of the film 'The Mind' starring Brian O'Driscoll is the latest attempt by Series partner HSBC to reach new fans all over the world by highlighting the incredible athletes and stories only found in this unique sport. You can view the film across HSBC Sport social media channels.