Ireland captain, Rory Best, has announced that he will retire after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Currently holder of 117 international caps, Best made his first appearance in the Green of Ireland off the bench against the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road during the 2005 Autumn International Series and made his first start against the Springboks the following year. He first captained Ireland during the 2009 summer tour of North America.
Best became Ireland’s first-choice hooker at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. It was at that world cup where Best played his 50th test, sealing the milestone with a try as Ireland beat the United States in the pool stages.
Best joined his first British and Irish Lions tour in 2013 for the tour to Australia and was again selected for the 2017 tour to New Zealand. Best started four of the five matches he played on the New Zealand tour, captaining the Lions to a 34-6 win over the Chiefs and a 31-31 draw against the Hurricanes.
It was while on the 2017 tour that Best received an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honors list.
Best has recorded 4 Six Nations titles with Ireland including 2 Grand Slams.
A player that has won everything from Lions matches to Grand Slams it is a sad but inevitable end to a world class career.
A one-club man, Best has made 218 appearances for Ulster scoring 23 trys for the club. A winner of the Pro14 title in 2005-06 season, Best made his last, and possibly his final appearance, for Ulster when he suffered an ankle ligament injury during the Champions Cup against Irish rivals, Leinster in this season’s quarter finals.
“It is with mixed feelings that I announce my retirement from Ulster Rugby as of the end of this season.
“This feels like the right time for me to go out on my terms, a luxury for which I feel very privileged.”
“I think you know when the time is right. I always wanted to go out on my terms and I think that this is right for me now. It feels like the right time.
“It’s a bit of a relief as it’s been a hot topic for a while, but it’s [still] a difficult thing to come out and say.
“I think if you give so much to something it is very difficult to say goodbye to it.”
Best will battle for a return to fitness to be in the mix for the upcoming Rugby World Cup.
Ireland face Six Nations rivals, Scotland, in their RWC pool. Old adversary, Scotland, is sure to be Ireland’s toughest pool match with Japan, Russia and Samoa completing the pool. Ireland look certain to progress to the quarter final where they will face stiffer opposition.
Ireland have never made it to a world cup semi final but Best will be hoping to steer his side to an historic fixture ahead of his retirement. As a player you feel certain Best will not want to leave anything out on the field and will battle for every minute he is on the field in the world cup.
“I am very excited for the end of the season with Ulster and for the upcoming World Cup with Ireland – both of which I hope to finish with a massive high, playing at the top of my game.”