Rory Best Opens Up About His Controversial Appearance At Paddy Jackson’s Rape Trial

Jason Hennessy

Jason Hennessy

Jason is the editor here at RugbyLAD and a proud Limerick man.
Jason Hennessy

Naive.

Former Ireland captain Rory Best has opened up about his controversial appearance at the rape trial of former teammate Paddy Jackson back in 2018.

Jackson and the other defendants were acquitted of all charges in the end but he and teammate Stuart Olding were ultimately sacked by Ulster and the IRFU because of some of the actions that were revealed in the highly publicised trial.

Speaking to Off The Ball, Best has admitted he was “unbelievably naive” and reckons he was used by Jackson’s legal team to aid them in the outcome of the trial.

The Ulster native said looking back he was nothing more than a “pawn” and regrets his decision to appear in court.

“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 it was never my intention,”Best said.

“I look back now in hindsight and I didn’t think of it at the time. Ultimately, I’m a trusting person and I look back now and I do think that I was used.

“I didn’t ever think that it would be that case but there’s no doubt, as you said yourself, that it suited the [defence] to have me there.

“I think that I became a pawn and that is the bit that, looking back in hindsight, it was bad advice to be there.” 

Best said it was never his intention to cause any more distress and sees it as the one things he regrets the most from his time as Ireland captain.

“I was, like I say, naive enough to think that I could go there as a friend. I accept exactly what you’re saying and ultimately, you go to all these roles as a captain,” Best added.

“I don’t know why I thought this would be different. But, look, ultimately I did. That is one of the things I’m very sorry for.

“It was never, never my intention to cause any more distress in what was a very, very difficult day for that poor girl anyway.”

“I know now in hindsight that was wrong. 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.

“My benefit or detriment was irrelevant to it but it turned it into a circus and it put a lot more pressure onto something that was very sensitive.

“As I’ve said before, that is definitely the thing that I regret the most and to turn up the magnifying glass on it is just something that… I suppose you say you live and learn but this was a big thing you had to live and learn from.”