Rory Best has broken the silence surrounding his appearance at 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.
Earlier this week, Best answered, "no comment" to questions about the trial. However, after Ireland's last-gasp victory against France Best clarified exactly why he attended the trial.
As quoted by the Irish Times, Best explained why he attended Wednesday's proceedings.
We sign out on a Tuesday night and Wednesday is our day off so technically we don’t need permission to do stuff in our own time. The reason I was there, it’s on the record I was called as a character witness, and I was advised that it is important that I got both sides of the story so I could make an informed decision about that.
Because it is an ongoing legal matter I will not make any further comment.
Earlier this week, Joe Schmidt was asked about his captain's appearance at the trial. "we're not in a position to comment on that. It's a legal matter".
Best attending had provoked much debate and consternation.