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Ireland's All Blacks win ends 111 barren years and makes Best family so proud

Ex-international hails brother after historic triumph against world champs in Chicago

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 07/11/2016

Simon Best has said that he and his family couldn't be prouder of his brother Rory after an historic weekend for Irish rugby in Chicago.

Alongside Ulster teammates Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne, Best was front and centre as Ireland secured a famous victory over New Zealand, their first in 111 years of trying.

Ireland Rugby Team Return Home from Chicago, Dublin Airport 7/11/2016
Conor Murray and head coach Joe Schmidt
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Ireland Rugby Team Return Home from Chicago, Dublin Airport 7/11/2016 Conor Murray and head coach Joe Schmidt Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Ireland Rugby Team Return Home from Chicago, Dublin Airport 7/11/2016 Andrew Trimble and Jordi Murphy Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Ireland Rugby Team Return Home from Chicago, Dublin Airport 7/11/2016 Devin Toner Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Ireland Rugby Team Return Home from Chicago, Dublin Airport 7/11/2016 Jonathan Sexton Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Rory’s wife Jodie
Simon Best

And now the 34-year-old, who also led the side to a first away win in South Africa last summer, has his name in the history books as the only Irish skipper to ever beat rugby's most famous side.

"It's been some six months for him," said Simon, who himself captained Ireland in a distinguished career cut short by a heart condition.

"It says a lot about Rory that when he came back having captained the side into uncharted territory with that win in South Africa, he was unhappy that they hadn't won the series.

"This team and management are writing their own history. They did us all very proud.

"I think Rory has shown incredible leadership since he took on the baton from Paul O'Connell and even before that he's been a leader in that side for a number of years. The proud thing for me and certainly the rest of our family is the way that he leads.

"He's not somebody who tries to do it all by himself. He empowers people around him. You've a team there who all shared the responsibility and were all able to express themselves. That's a testament to Rory.

"He's a very different character to Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell who went before him and are more charismatic leaders. Rory empowers people, he gives them confidence and he inspires them to get the best out of themselves.

"Growing up we used to go and watch New Zealand when they came to Dublin and it was such a pleasure. If Ireland put in a plucky performance all the better. That's what Irish rugby was about but this group of players, and going back 10 years, have changed that. They've taken it by the scruff on the neck.

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (L-R) Jonny Sexton and Simon Zebo of Ireland celebrate following their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Rory Best of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Dejected New Zealand players look on following their team's 40-29 defeat during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland congratulates his players following their 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Jack McGrath of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo (L) of Ireland celebrates with teammate Jonny Sexton after scoring his team's fourth try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo (L) of Ireland celebrates with teammate Jonny Sexton after scoring his team's fourth try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Ireland's Devin Toner, back, and Jack McGrath, right, defend against New Zealand's Ben Smith, center, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Kieran Reid of New Zealand looks on during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip, right, defends against New Zealand's Ben Smith, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring against New Zealand during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's CJ Stander, center, is tackled by New Zealand's Malakai Fekitoa, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's CJ Stander celebrates after a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw, right, scores past New Zealand's Sam Cane, left, during the second half of a rugby match Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's Joey Carbery, right, celebrates with Josh van der Flier, left, after a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Ireland's supporters cheer on their team during the second half of a rugby match against New Zealand, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Debut cap Scott Barrett of New Zealand touches down to score his team's third try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand hands off CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand hands off CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand wins lineout ball under pressure from CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand wins lineout ball under pressure from CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: CJ Stander of Ireland wins lineout ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand spills a high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is snagged by Dane Coles of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland hands off Dane Coles of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland players celebrate their 40-29 victory as the final whistle blows during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ireland fans celebrate their team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Donnacha Ryan (L) of Ireland celebrates following his team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: The injured George Moala of New Zealand receives treatment during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Liam Squire of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: A New Zealand fan cheers on her team fan during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: An Ireland fan is apprehended by security as he attempts to celebrate with Jamie Heaslip of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
The All Blacks perform the haka during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view.) The teams line up for the anthems during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of New Zealand spills a high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Kieran Reid of New Zealand looks on during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand claims a ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of New Zealand claims a ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Referee Mathieu Raynal of France speaks with Kieran Reid of New Zealand during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Moody of New Zealand is hauled down by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Aaron Cruden of New Zealand is tackled by Conor Murray of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Joe Moody of New Zealand is hauled down by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Referee Mathieu Raynal of France officiates during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks takes the ball in the lineout during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Owen Franks of the New Zealand All Blacks is tackled by CJ Stander of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks spills the high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Beauden Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks spills the high ball during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks takes a catch during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: George Moala of the New Zealand All Blacks is injured during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is smothered by players after scoring a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks heads for a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Ryan Crotty of the New Zealand All Blacks leaves the field injured during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks scores a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Simon Zebo of Ireland takes a catch during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 05: Scott Barrett of the New Zealand All Blacks scores a try during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago, United States. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

"For Rory, in particular, taking that baton on, he won't accept second best."

While Simon's family and work commitments meant he watched the game from the comfort of his own sofa in Poyntzpass, the rest of the Best clan had made their way to America's Windy City.

Rory's wife Jodie and two of the pair's children, as well as his sister and parents, were in the stands at Soldier Field with Simon sure that the sight of his family will have been a real inspiration to make history.

"Jodie, his wife, and Ben and Penny, his two older kids were there watching on.

"Unfortunately son Richie is still a bit young for travel of that distance. Rory would have loved to have him there too obviously. Mum and dad and our sister Rebecca were all out there as well.

"When I played, and Rory is no different, it's great to have your family around you.

"It gives you that extra lift and he loves seeing them there for any match, whether that's New Zealand in Chicago or the Dragons in Belfast; having them around adds so much.

"We're all rooting for him no matter where we are but to have them there in the stadium, and to meet up with them afterwards, will have been great, especially Jodie and the kids.

"It's not easy going all around the world following your husband or son or father playing rugby, but occasions like that are what makes it all worthwhile. Those are memories they'll have forever."

Belfast Telegraph

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