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
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.
“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.