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Ulster hero Rory Best bows out after All Blacks defeat at World Cup

 

Rory Best of Ireland walks on the pitch with his children following defeat in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between New Zealand and Ireland at the Tokyo Stadium (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Rory Best of Ireland walks on the pitch with his children following defeat in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between New Zealand and Ireland at the Tokyo Stadium (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's hooker Rory Best reacts after losing the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match between New Zealand and Ireland at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on October 19, 2019. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
19 Oct 2019 - Banbridge Rugby Club Honorary President Maynard Sinton (left) watching New Zealand vs. Ireland in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final at Banbridge Rugby Clubhouse.
19 Oct 2019 - Andrew Beattie with his son Harry at Banbridge Rugby Clubhouse to watch New Zealand vs. Ireland in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final.
19 Oct 2019 - Rugby fans at Banbridge Rugby Clubhouse to watch New Zealand vs. Ireland in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final.
Rory McIlroy and wife Erica Stoll (right) in the stands during the 2019 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match at Tokyo Stadium. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday October 19, 2019. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Adam Davy/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. Strictly no commercial use or association. Still image use only. Use implies acceptance of RWC 2019 T&Cs (in particular Section 5 of RWC 2019 T&Cs) at URL: bit.ly/2knOId6
John Toner

By John Toner

Tearful Rory Best paid tribute to Irish rugby fans yesterday as his glittering international career came to an end in Japan.

Ireland crashed out of the Rugby World Cup following a crushing 46-14 defeat to New Zealand at the Tokyo Stadium.

An emotional Best (37), who announced earlier this year he would be retiring following the tournament, was given a raucous reception by the crowd in his post-match interview.

The Ulsterman spoke fondly of his time wearing the green jersey and paid tribute to outgoing coach Joe Schmidt, saying: "I've loved every minute of it, the support from home and from the fans when we're home and away is incredible.

"I'd just like to thank this unbelievable crowd, the Irish started off as always with an unbelievable atmosphere, they were brilliant.

"Thanks to my team-mates, the coaching staff and Joe in particular who is moving on. I think he took Irish rugby and my game in particular to a different level when he came here. A lot of credit must go to him, just a massive thanks to him."

Rory's wife Jodie handed kids Ben (10), Penny (7) and four-year-old Richie down to him from the stands one by one and they walked on to the pitch with the Ireland skipper to applaud the fans and bid farewell.

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CHOFU, JAPAN - OCTOBER 19: Rory Best of Ireland reaches out to grab his children from the crowd following defeat in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between New Zealand and Ireland at the Tokyo Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
CHOFU, JAPAN - OCTOBER 19: Rory Best of Ireland reaches out to grab his children from the crowd following defeat in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between New Zealand and Ireland at the Tokyo Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
CHOFU, JAPAN - OCTOBER 19: Rory Best of Ireland embraces his children following defeat in the Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarter Final match between New Zealand and Ireland at the Tokyo Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Joanna Cooper at the match

After the match, former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll paid tribute to Best, saying: "The fairy tale ending is rare but what an incredible servant he has been, leading from the front and putting in some incredible shifts."

NZ rugby legend Sean Fitzpatrick echoed Brian's sentiments, adding: "He really is one of the good guys, I look forward to sharing a beer with him."

Rory McIlroy, Ardal O'Hanlon and Derry model Joanna Cooper were in the sea of green which had filled the stadium before kick-off.

Hundreds of people also packed into the clubhouse at Banbridge Rugby Club, where Rory is a member, to watch the game. Despite the disappointment of defeat, senior vice president Alexander Waugh said everyone at the club is proud of Rory's career and achievements.

"Everybody is over the moon about Rory's career, he's a great ambassador for the club. No matter the result it wouldn't change how anyone at the club feels about him.

"I'm devastated that he's retiring but the day had to come that he would retire. I remember his very first match when he played alongside his brother Simon.

"It's hard to believe the career he's gone on to have, I don't think anybody could have envisaged where he would be 15 years later. It's been absolutely brilliant but I suppose all good things must come to an end.

"There was definite pride for Rory but sometimes you have to realise the best team won.

"New Zealand were just out of this world, unfortunately for Ireland."

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