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Saturday 22 September 2018

Captain Best is quizzed over attending pals' trial

Iain Henderson and Rory Best. Photo: Pacemaker.
Iain Henderson and Rory Best. Photo: Pacemaker.

Ireland captain Rory Best has refused to explain his decision to attend the rape trial of his Ulster and Ireland team-mates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding

Questioned yesterday at a press conference at the Stade de France, Best also declined to comment on whether the IRFU had any prior knowledge of his attendance at Belfast Crown Court during his day off on Wednesday.

After two questions of Best's regular pre-game engagement, the IRFU media manager stepped in to say that Best would only talk about the Six Nations opener against France at the Parisian venue.

Later, when asked if he was aware of the controversy on social media around his involvement due to his decision on Wednesday, the press officer again stepped in before Best could reply.

Mr Jackson and Mr Olding are accused of raping a 19-year-old woman in June 2016, with Jackson also facing an additional charge of sexual assault. They both deny the charges.

A third man, former Ulster Academy player Blane McIlroy, is charged with indecent exposure.

Deny

Ex-UCD and Belfast Harlequins player Rory Harrison is accused of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

All four players deny the charges.

Best attended court proceedings alongside Ireland second-row Iain Henderson and Ulster team-mate Craig Gilroy.

Coach Joe Schmidt has declined to confirm if he gave Best and Henderson permission to attend the trial.

The alleged victim in the case had said she was worried if she came forward, she would be faced with the influence of the team against her.

"It's my word against theirs," she said.

"Ulster Rugby will vouch for their good character and I'll just look like a stupid little girl."

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