Northern Ireland news

Rory Best regrets appearing at teammates' rape trial

Former Ireland skipper Rory Best has voiced regret for appearing at the high profile of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding

FORMER Ireland and Ulster captain Rory Best has voiced regret for appearing at Belfast Crown Court on the first day a young woman gave evidence in the rape trial of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Jackson and Olding were subsequently found not guilty of all charges following the 2018 trial.

“It was never, ever my intention to cause any more distress in what was a very, very difficult day for that poor girl anyway,” Best said in an interview with Newstalk's Off The Ball.

Days before leading Ireland against France in Paris, Best attended the trial alongside Ulster and Ireland teammate Iain Henderson.

“I know now in hindsight that was wrong,” said Best. “I shouldn’t have been there. I didn’t [take independent legal advice] and that was more mistakes because I think when you’re a reasonably trusting person you kind of think that, ‘Oh look, if they’re saying this then it must be for my benefit.’ It turned out it wasn’t."

The 37-year-old said he now believes that, as the Ireland captain, he became a “pawn” and that it suited Jackson’s legal team to have him attend the trial.

“I’ll be the first to admit that I was unbelievably naive to think that wasn’t the way that it would be brought across but I can assure you that that was never my intention," he said.

Best, who has previously stood over his decision to attend the trial, said he was "naive enough to think that I could go there as a friend".

"But, look, ultimately I did and that is one of the things I’m very sorry for," he said.

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