Rory Best explains reason behind attendance at trial

Ireland captain says he was advised to attend after being called as a character witness

Ireland captain  Rory Best carries the ball during the Six Nations game against France at the Stade de France. Photograph:  Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Ireland captain Rory Best carries the ball during the Six Nations game against France at the Stade de France. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

 

Ireland captain Rory Best has said he has been called as a character witness at the rape trial of Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Best was asked after Saturday’s game against France in Paris if he had sought any permission from the IRFU to attend the trial last Wednesday.

“We sign out on a Tuesday night and Wednesday is our day off so technically we don’t need permission to do stuff in our own time,” said Best. “The reason I was there, it’s on the record I was called as a character witness, and I was advised that it is important that I got both sides of the story so I could make an informed decision about that.

Ireland and Ulster rugby captain Rory Best (right) and club and international team-mate
Iain Henderson arrive at Laganside Magistrates’ Court in Belfast on Wednesday, where their
team-mates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are on trial for the alleged rape of a woman.
Photograph: PACEMAKER
Ireland and Ulster rugby captain Rory Best (right) and club and international team-mate Iain Henderson arrive at Laganside Magistrates’ Court in Belfast on Wednesday, where their team-mates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are on trial for the alleged rape of a woman. Photograph: PACEMAKER

“Because it is an ongoing legal matter I will not make any further comment.”

Jackson (26), of Oakleigh Park, Belfast is charged with one count of rape and one count of sexual assault and Olding (24), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, is charged with one count of rape.

Blane McIlroy (26), of Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is accused of one count of exposure.

Rory Harrison (25), from Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

They all deny the charges.

The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have said that Jackson and Olding will not play again until the trial is concluded. The trial is expected to last five weeks.

Among those who attended the court hearing on Wednesday were Ireland and Ulster rugby players Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Craig Gilroy.