Belfast Telegraph

Rory Best nearly quit Ireland captaincy over rape trial uproar

Rory Best
Rory Best
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Ireland hooker Rory Best has opened up for the first time about how he almost quit as captain as a result of the public furore surrounding his appearance at the Belfast rape trial last year.

The Poyntzpass man was advised to appear at the trial of former team-mates Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson, who were later acquitted of all charges, in his role as a potential character witness.

However, his appearance prompted much outrage and there was a social media campaign initiated seeking his removal as captain as Ireland embarked upon their Six Nations campaign.

"It's very difficult even if you get a feeling that one person doesn't want you there, never mind, there was obviously quite a few," Best said.

"Nobody wants to be in that position especially when you're representing an island, you want to be that figurehead, the one that everyone wants there. I did think long and hard, it was not a particularly pleasant time for anyone concerned.

"It was such a sensitive subject, it wasn't something you could talk about, nobody wanted to talk about it and rightly so, just leave it to run its course, once I saw the sort of outcry.

"There was support within that, not necessarily for what happened but for me as a captain.

"It's one of those times when you feel that the spotlight is on you and all you really want to do is crawl under a rock somewhere.

"And then when you come out, you hope that it's all gone away. That's what your instinct is.

"But then, I hope it's the kind of personality that I have, it was never going to be an option.

"I felt as long as I had the support from my peers and my coaches, it's a dream of mine to do it and I don't want to give it up."

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