Rory Best's incredible 15 year career with Ireland will come to an end at the World Cup in Japan this year. As captain for the last four years, he led Ireland to two victories over New Zealand and a Grand Slam.
That record hasn't always sheltered him from omnipresent social media abuse.
He was embroiled in controversy in 2018 for attending the Belfast Rape Trial . While that incident caused a serious and understandable debate, Best has also been the subject of some ridiculous criticism during his captaincy tenure. At the top of the list is the guaranteed stream of nonsense that will fill his Twitter account after each Ireland game because he did not sing either the national anthem or Ireland's Call.
Best caught up with his former Ireland and Ulster teammate Darren Cave on the latest episode of "The Rugby Pod" and outlined how much he's aware of this criticism.
I think I didn't sing it really because I enjoy getting absolutely massacred on social media after the game for not signing it. That's one of the highlights, is refreshing Twitter and people abusing me for not singing the anthem, and playing for Ireland wouldn't be the same without that obviously, that massive encouragement that I get.
Best has a much more understandable and personal reason why he doesn't sing the anthem before games, something rugby fans will have noted during his 15 year international career.
Look, the thing is, it's so ironic that you get abused for it, and nobody's ever stopped and asked you, 'why don't you sing it?'
It goes back to my Ireland Schools' days. And you know what it's like playing Ireland's Schools', you know, you think it's going to be the greatest honour you're ever going to achieve. You're playing for Ireland. Being from rugby families like we were, you're going 'this is incredible!'. You get so emotionally charged for it. And Ireland's Call comes on that you've heard so many times in the old Lansdowne Road or watching on TV, and you're belting it out.
And I remember we played France or England. Kicked off. I'm flying up going 'the first guy is getting it!'. They catch it, kick it out, and I'm then turning around, running back to get a ball, still thinking 'somebody's gonna to get it'., and I fired this throw in and it went, like I sort of tell the story that it went three times the height of the person I was throwing it to, it wasn't that bad! And it flew over the top.
From then on, I went, I can't go into a game... because it's so emotive to me, Ireland's Call. And actually, even the tail end of the Irish national anthem, you know the way you get that build up for that crescendo at the end. They're memories I have from going to the old Lansdowne Road to watch, this build up, and then the massive cheer, and then Ireland's Call coming on.
The problem is then, I worry that it's going to happen in a big game. That we're going to kick off against the All Blacks, Beauden Barrett's going to catch it, kick it out, and then I'm fully charged, trying to focus in. And it is such a core skill. It's a bit like goalkicking, you have to get your heart rate down, you have to focus, get your breathing back, and focus for that split second to throw the perfect throw and that's just why I did it. I don't know whether it would affect me as much now, but I'm not prepared to take the chance.
Let's hope Best is not singing Ireland's Call all the way to the 2nd November.
You can listen to Darren Cave's full interview with Rory Best on The Rugby Pod's Patreon page.