Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Rory Best: It's awful not being in Paris this week

Wednesday, September 26

Got back from playing a few holes of golf with Neil Best, Stevie Ferris and Bryan Young and bumped into Cameron Steele our physio, who said the doc (Gary O'Driscoll) was looking for me.

My first reaction was that I had forgotten about a physio session. I got back to my room and found four missed calls on my phone from Gary. I phoned him and he told me he had bad news. Selfishly, I thought they were going to pull me for the game. But he told me Simon had been taken to hospital.

My stomach turned. It was all hard to take in. I hoped it was just flu or something. But Gary reassumed me and kept me up to date. He told me they were trying to get Simon relaxed and there was no point coming in. A worrying night.







Thursday, September 27







Still no news of who was going to start at hooker. I felt I was fit and ready to play and I knew that Jerry was going to be ready, so it was going to be a straight call.







Got a bad feeling at the training session when Jerry ran with the team and it was difficult to push myself because I didn't want to disrupt the team plays.







Back to the hotel and just before I left to see Simon in hospital, Niall O'Donovan called to my room and told me they had decided to go with Jerry and gave me a couple of reasons. It's their decision, I'm glad to be on the bench having been told 10 days earlier that I wouldn't make the quarter-finals.







But when I went to see Simon, along with his wife Katie and Simon's room-mate Girvan Dempsey and his wife Anne-Marie his wife, I was pretty down. And when I saw him laying on the bed with drips and stuff attached to him, the seriousness of the situation struck me.







I would never show it in front of him, but to see my big brother, who had basically looked after me every time I had been in the Ireland squad, lying there like that was really upsetting.







But it was also a relief to see he was in such good form. We had a bit of banter and the craic was good. It was a big lift for me.





Friday, September 28.



There had been speculation that I wouldn't be emotionally right to play against Argentina on Sunday but Simon would never have forgiven me if I had said I couldn't play because of him.







It was always going to be at the back of my mind but I was also thinking that with Simon lying in hospital, the least I could do for him and the rest of the family would be go out and give it all I could. We travelled to Paris on the TGV again and when we got to the hotel it was a quick turnaround because we had a team meal booked on a boat on the river Seine.







It was very nice but felt a bit strange for 40-odd blokes to be on a romantic boat trip up the Seine. The mood was relaxed and nobody really talked about the game.







Saturday, September 29.







Had my usual lie in and after the captain's run, we had a very emotional captain's meeting.







Instead of Brian just talking the whole time, he asked Shane Horgan, Paul O'Connell and Ronan O'Gara to speak and they were very passionate.







Deep down they all said they felt this was the time we could do some damage. The resounding message was said we were the best team to have pulled on a green jersey but that we weren't going to show it if we went out of the World Cup tomorrow.







We all know it is the last roll of the dice tomorrow and it is going to take the performance of a life-time. But deep down we are quietly confident that we can still do it.







Munster have dealt with this sort of adversity, Leinster did it against Toulouse and Ulster did it all the way through their European Cup win in 1999. But it's going to be the biggest game of all our careers.







Sunday, September 30.







We did our line-outs at around 1pm at the local playing fields and I felt great, the thumb was 100 per cent. Everyone was really tuned in. The Irish support waiting for us at the ground was awesome.







We started the game really well and if we had taken a couple more chances it would have been a different game. By not scoring the bonus point against Georgia we had really dug our own grave. They were happy enough to play their game and they did it very well.







At half-time the message still was: don't panic. We looked like we might score another try quickly and if we were going to score four tries, we would be well ahead of them anyway, so their drop-goals weren't worrying us.







When Geordan went over for our second try, I said to Neil Best beside me that it might be game on.







But whenever I came on and they kicked another drop-goal, it looked like it was slipping away but we said we would just go for it. Our World Cup may have been over but we wanted to go out fighting.







It was nice to come on with Bestie and when Isaac Boss came on moments later there was a familiar feel to things. I knew what the boys around me were all about.







At the final whistle we were all stunned. We stood around and couldn't believe we were out.







In the changing room Eddie told us we would take a lot of stick and that we were all going to have to live with the fact that we were a really good team that had a chance of doing some real damage in this tournament and we had let it all go.







But he said we shouldn't dwell on it too long but to go out to the provinces and get our form back.





Monday, October 1.





We had been told late last night that a flight had been booked for us today and I had to pack up my bags first thing and head to the airport.







Thankfully, Jodie made it on to our charter flight and her car was at Dublin so we could drive back up home together. Simon stayed in Dublin to see a cardiac specialist tomorrow.







It was strange getting back. It was nice to be back because I had missed home but that was because there was no rugby on to compare it with.







Come this weekend, it will all be different. I think only then will magnitude of my disappointment will hit home. I will wish we were in Paris getting ready to play Scotland or Cardiff getting ready to play the All Blacks.



Tuesday, October 2



I couldn't help feeling, what the hell am I doing here? I should be still at the World Cup. Jodie slept in but got to her primary school just in time.



I sat around and did nothing before meeting up with Isaac and his family, who are over from New Zealand, for a while.







I tried to stay away from as many papers as I could and keep my head down because at the end of the day we have come back without doing, not only what we talked about doing, but what we should have done as well. It is something we are going to have to live with.







Talked to Simon he was in good form. He is optimistic and the least we can do is be optimistic as well.



Wednesday, October 3



Went out with a couple of boys and tried to avoid any interaction with people who will tell us what we already know.



Hopefully in four years time I will get the chance to rectify where I went wrong.



It is awful being at home this early in the World Cup but the positive side is that it will not be long until I am back playing with Ulster and I think we will have a really good chance of doing something this year. At this time that's what I am holding on to.

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