Irish captain Rory Best has followed the lead of his head coach Joe Schmidt in refusing to answer questions regarding his attending a rape trial at Belfast Crown Court involving his Ulster and Irish teammates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding. Jackson and Olding are accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in June 2016, with Jackson also facing an additional charge of sexual assault. They both deny the charges.
Best was photographed outside Belfast Crown Court alongside fellow internationals Iain Henderson and Craig Gilroy on Wednesday. Speaking to the media ahead of Saturday's Six Nations game against France, Best responded with "no comment" to the questions about the trial.
Rory Best takes his seat at the press conference, says he has no comment on attending the trial. Irfu says there will be no talk of the trial. pic.twitter.com/pm9JlnhypS
— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) February 2, 2018
Yesterday, Joe Schmidt also declined to answer questions relating to his players attending the trial.
When asked by the media whether he had given Best and Henderson permission to leave the Irish camp to attend the trial, Schmidt replied that "I have no comment on that".
When then asked for his opinion on his players' appearance at the trial, Schmidt replied that "we're not in a position to comment on that. It's a legal matter".
A long, lingering pause followed before the questioning turned to this weekend's game.
The IRFU have yet to respond to Balls request for comment about the matter.