Ireland captain Rory Best hailed after Rugby World Cup win
Rugby fans who got up early for Ireland's World Cup opener in Japan against Scotland yesterday hailed captain Rory Best's performance after critics had written him off.
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Ireland stunned Scotland with a 27-3 bonus-point blitz in Yokohama to start their Pool A campaign in fine fashion yesterday.
Craigavon-born Best had entered the tournament still fending off lingering questions over his stewardship in the wake of a record 57-15 loss to England last month.
In April Best announced that he would retire from professional rugby after the World Cup.
But the evergreen 37-year-old hooker produced a vintage performance to dispel any remaining quibbles, mixing brute force with balance set-piece work.
While some lucky Ireland fans had made it over, several pubs in Belfast were serving up breakfast - but not drinks - for those with the stomach for getting up early to watch the game with their friends.
Most made do with televised coverage, where they saw one cheeky interviewer remind Best that he had ended the game as Ireland's oldest ever World Cup player, "so go and get your slippers on".
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Fans were a little more respectful in their online tributes.
"Rory Best is one of the classiest men going. He's not going to put his slippers on, he's got the eye of the tiger for the next match. But ever the gent, he replies with 'Thank you'," noted Lee Marie on Twitter.
And Jack Marshall tweeted: "So much respect for Rory Best today. Under huge pressure for his place, people saying he's past it, doubts about Ireland in general, and line-out under the cosh. Comes out, 80-minute performance, flawless set-piece, and Ireland smash Scotland. Stunning."