Ireland coach Schmidt refuses to be drawn on the attendance of Best and Henderson at Jackson and Olding trial
Joe Schmidt refused to answer when asked questions about his captain Rory Best attending court for the rape trial of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.
The normally outspoken Ireland head coach cited legal reasons as to why he could not comment, although he was merely asked whether he had given Best permission to travel to the hearing on Wednesday.
Ulster hooker Best was yesterday named as team captain in the match-day XV as Ireland prepare to kick off against France tomorrow.
He and two other Ulster team-mates, Craig Gilroy and Iain Henderson, were photographed at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday as the girl at the centre of the case took to the stand to give evidence.
Best, Henderson and the rest of the Ireland team were on a day off at the time.
They are Ulster Rugby teammates of out-half Jackson and centre Olding, who both deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016. Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.
Yesterday at a Press conference in Carton House, Schmidt was asked: "It's not about the trial (but) did you give Rory Best permission to go to Belfast yesterday and did you know about it?"
The coach answered: "I've got no comment on any of that."
He was then asked for his view on the captain's appearance at the ongoing trial.
Schmidt replied: "We are not in a position to comment on any of that. It's a legal matter."
However, while an ongoing court case cannot be discussed, there is no legal issue with Schmidt confirming if Best and Henderson had permission to travel to Belfast.
He was later asked whether he was confident that Best and Henderson would be able to perform to their best.
He responded: "I'm confident in the team. I think the team are ready to perform and you go into every Test match hoping that they will."