The second paper of interest was published in the American Economic Review in 2009. Alexandre Mas and Enrico Moretti examined peer effects in the workplace. The workplace was a large supermarket chain and the workers were cashiers. Mas and Moretti found positive productivity spillovers from the introduction of highly productive personnel into a shift. They also found that the productivity spillovers were limited to those who could see the highly productive worker. For example, a productive cashier introduced into aisle 13 had an impact on 12 and 14. If we translate this into rugby then O’Driscoll’s productivity in the number 13 shirt should have rubbed off on people like Gordon D’Arcy (12) and Andrew Trimble (14).
The Gordon D’Arcy example is also relevant for another finding by Mas and Moretti. O’Driscoll and D’Arcy have been the most capped centre-pairing in international rugby. They also play together in Leinster. Mas and Moretti found that cashiers respond more to the presence of colleagues with whom they frequently interact. Maybe Gordon should be doing his best to get Brian to reconsider a return to the Irish shirt. Even allowing for the sentimentality, a player who received the man-of-the-match award in each of his last two games must have something left to offer.