Northern Ireland news

Ulster rugby captain Rory Best declines to comment on attendance at rape trial

Ulster's Rory Best pictured on his way into court on Wednesday 
Ed Carty, Lesley Anne McKeown and Nick Purewal, Press Association

Ireland and Ulster rugby captain Rory Best has declined to comment on his attendance at the trial of two teammates for rape.

Best, who is set to lead the Irish team out against France in Paris in the Six Nations tournament on Saturday, was in Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

Fellow Lions, Ireland and Ulster star Iain Henderson was also there.

Ireland and Ulster rugby players Stuart Olding (24) and Paddy Jackson (26) are accused of raping the same woman at a property in south Belfast in June 2016.

Jackson faces a further charge of sexual assault.

Both men deny the charges.

At a press conference in Paris ahead of the Six Nations opening weekend, Best declined to answer questions on his attendance at the trial.

Asked to explain why he was at the hearing, he said: "No. I have no comment."

Best also declined to say if he had permission from the Irish Rugby Football Union to attend.

Best and Henderson were on a day off from the Ireland rugby training camp for the Six Nations when they attended the trial in Belfast.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was asked on Thursday for his views on the players' attendance and declined to comment.

Ireland and Ulster winger Craig Gilroy was also present at the trial on Wednesday, as was Ulster prop Kyle McCall.

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