Rugby

Rory Best Opens Up On Aftermath Of His Attendance At Belfast Trial

Rory Best Opens Up On Aftermath Of His Attendance At Belfast Trial

Ulster and Irish rugby captain Rory Best has this week spoken publicly about his decision to attend the rape trial involving former teammates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding ahead of the Six Nations game against France earlier this year.

Jackson and Olding were accused of raping a 19-year-old Belfast student and were found not guilty of all charges at the end of a nine-week trial.

Co-defendants Blane McIlroy, who was accused of exposure, and Rory Harrison, who was charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information, were also found not guilty.

Best was photographed attending the trial ahead of the first Six Nations game of the year, and was subject to intense criticism for doing so: #NotMyCaptain was shared widely on social media ahead of kick-off against France. In the aftermath of that game, Best told the media that he appeared as a character witness, and it was reported two days later that Best had been instructed to attend by lawyers involved in the case.

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Speaking this week to BT Sport, Best recalled the experience as a "really, really difficult time", and was grateful for the support shown to him by Joe Schmidt and the Irish squad.

It was a really, really difficult time. The hardest thing for me was to try and guide Ulster through it while I was getting so much abuse myself. There were a lot of people calling for me to step down, and I think the thing that got me through it was the support that Joe [Schmidt] and the senior players within Ireland gave me.

It's a lesson I hope my kids take from it. If you have friends that are in trouble and need a bit of help and support, and if they are promising you that they have done nothing wrong, even though people may not think it's the right thing to do, I think it is.

Ultimately, nobody came out of the process a winner in the slightest. From an Ulster point of view, it was good to put it all to bed so we could concentrate on the tail end of the season and actually playing rugby.

[BT Sport]

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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