Rory David Best OBE (born 15 August 1982) is a former rugby union player from Northern Ireland and was the captain of the Ireland national team from 2016 to 2019. He played hooker for Ulster and was registered for Banbridge RFC, having previously represented the Newcastle agrics. Best earned 124 caps for Ireland, making his debut in 2005 and retiring at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, his fourth World Cup. Best is one of the most capped rugby players of all time, as well as the most-capped forward to ever represent Ireland.

Rory Best
Rory Best 2015 RWC.jpg
Best playing for Ireland during the 2015 Rugby World Cup
Birth nameRory David Best
Date of birth (1982-08-15) 15 August 1982 (age 37)
Place of birthCraigavon, Northern Ireland
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Weight110 kg (17 st 5 lb; 243 lb)
SchoolPortadown College
UniversityNewcastle University
Notable relative(s)Simon Best (brother)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Hooker
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2000-2003 Banbridge RFC ()
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2004–2019 Ulster 218 (115)
Correct as of 16 March 2019
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2013, 2017
Ireland Wolfhounds
British and Irish Lions
Correct as of 21 October 2019

Best also toured with the British and Irish Lions side in 2013 and 2017, although he never played a test match for the Lions.

Early lifeEdit

Best appearing for Ulster in 2012 Magner's League match versus Ospreys

Best was raised in Poyntzpass, County Armagh. He was educated at Tandragee Junior High School, Portadown College. He then studied Agriculture at The University of Newcastle.


Best returned home to join Belfast Harlequins in 2002 where he captained the team and gained his first Ulster contract in 2004.[1] He made his debut for Ulster as a replacement at home to Munster in the 2005 Celtic League. He replaced his brother (now retired Ireland and Ulster prop Simon) as Ulster captain for the 2007/08 season and continues to hold the position. He is renowned for his abilities as a scrummager.[2] Best missed the entire 2009/10 season due to surgery on a chronic disc problem.[3] Best scored two tries in 2011/12 and 2010/11 for Ulster. He was part of the Ulster side that was defeated by Leinster in The Heineken Cup final in 2012.[citation needed]

Best played his 200th game for Ulster in the Pro14 in 2017, earning the honour against Leinster.



Best made his international debut for Ireland as a replacement against the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road in November 2005 and made his first start against the Springboks in 2006. He has been involved with the national team ever since, initially sharing the number 2 shirt with Jerry Flannery. He was a member of the Irish teams that won the 2007 Triple Crown and was in the Irish squad for the 2007 Rugby World Cup[4] as well as the 2009 Six Nations Championship which completed the Grand Slam.[citation needed]

He captained the Ireland team that toured North America in 2009, while many of his Ireland teammates were on the British and Irish Lions team that began their tour of South Africa at the same time. He became the first-choice hooker at the 2011 Rugby World Cup after an injury to Jerry Flannery. Best also played his 50th test for Ireland during the World Cup, scoring a try as Ireland beat the United States during the pool stages.

He was chosen to captain Ireland again, during the 2012 Six Nations Championship, after Paul O'Connell was injured.[citation needed]


Best was added to the British and Irish Lions squad for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia on 26 May[5] after English hooker Dylan Hartley was removed from the squad after receiving a red card in the Aviva Premiership final for abuse of an official on 25 May 2013.[6] In 2014 Best won his 2nd Six Nations title.

In January 2016, Best was named as the new Ireland captain for the 2016 Six Nations Championship.[7] On November 26, 2016, Best became Ireland's fifth centurion, gaining his 100th cap in a test match vs Australia in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.[citation needed] The previous week, Best captained Ireland to a historic 40-29 win over New Zealand in his 99th appearance, Ireland's first ever win over New Zealand.

After finishing the 2017 Six Nations, Best was selected for the British and Irish Lions for the second time, on the 2017 tour to New Zealand. Best started in four of the five matches he played on tour, captaining the Lions to a 34-6 win over the Chiefs and a 31-31 draw against the Hurricanes. Best was not subbed off in either of those matches, and received an OBE while he was on tour with the Lions.

Best continued as captain for Ireland for the 2018 Six Nations Championship, leading the team to a historic third Grand Slam and Triple Crown, as well as winning the tournament, by defeating England at Twickenham Stadium on St Patrick's Day.[8]

Although Best missed the mid-year test series against Australia's Wallabies, with Peter O'Mahony captaining Ireland in his place, Best returned for the 2018 end-of-year rugby union internationals. Best cemented his place as one of the most successful captains in Irish rugby history during the end of 2018, leading Ireland out against New Zealand on the 17 November 2018. Ireland beat New Zealand by 16-9, winning their ninth test in a single year.[9]

On 18 April 2019, Best announced that he would retire[10] from professional rugby after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. "It is with mixed feelings that I announce my retirement from Ulster Rugby as of the end of this season," said Best. "This feels like the right time for me to go out on my terms, a luxury for which I feel very privileged,".[11][12]

His final test for Ireland was on 19 October 2019, when Ireland lost to New Zealand, 14-46 in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which was also Best's fourth World Cup tournament.[13] Best was replaced by Niall Scannell in the 63rd minute of the test, receiving a deserved standing ovation from the crowd as he departed the field. His achievements across his career earned his subsequent praise from All Blacks Captain, Kieran Read.[14][15][16]

He is the only Irish captain to have a win over Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, he is one of a few captains to achieve this. [17]

Best played his last game professional rugby match with the Barbarians, on 16 November 2019, captaining the team with the Flying Fijians claiming the Killic Cup 33-31.


Best was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to rugby.[18][19]



Personal lifeEdit

Best was raised on the family farm near Poyntzpass, County Armagh;[20] his older brother Simon also played for Ulster and Ireland.

Rory married Jodie Bell, a schoolteacher in Richhill in the summer of 2009, they have two boys and one girl.[21]

Rory is a tillage and beef farmer, with his father and brother Simon in County Down.


  1. ^ Matt Hughes. "Sport". Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Best is Ireland's Mister Versatile – Rugby, Sport". 12 March 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  3. ^ "Best to miss entire season through injury". The Irish Times. 13 August 2009.
  4. ^ "Rory Best ruled out for up to three weeks". 16 September 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  5. ^ "Best added to Lions squad". 27 May 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Hartley hit with 11-week ban". Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Six Nations: Ireland name Rory Best captain and announce 35-man squad". Guardian. 20 January 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Six Nations: Ireland beat England 24-15 to win Grand Slam". BBC Sport. 17 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Jacob Stockdale scores only try as Ireland earn historic win over All Blacks". Guardian. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  10. ^ "Ireland & Ulster captain Best to retire after World Cup". 18 April 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "'I hope to finish on a massive high' - Ireland captain Rory Best to retire after the Rugby World Cup". Irish Independent. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Ireland captain Rory Best to retire from rugby after the World Cup". The 42. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  13. ^ "Best hopes 'hilarious' Farrell doesn't lose element of fun as he steps into Schmidt's shoes". The 42. 4 December 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  14. ^ "All Blacks v Ireland: Rory Best's emotional speech after Rugby World Cup elimination". Megan Gattey. 20 October 2019. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Rory Best can bow out of rugby as one of Ireland's great captains". The 42. 20 October 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Ireland's World Cup: 'Too much detail and too much tension', says Best". Irish Times. 4 December 2019. Retrieved 6 December 2019.
  17. ^ England captains John Pullin, Will Carling, Martin Johnson and Owen Farrell, France captains Fabien Pelous and Thierry Dusautoir have achieved this.
  18. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B10.
  19. ^ "Queen's Honours: Awards for Rory Best, Jonathan Rea and Steven Davis". BBC Sport (Northern Ireland). 16 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2017.
  20. ^ "Rory Best exclusive interview". 15 March 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  21. ^ "'I'll have to tell my son that I am not part of it any more' - Irish captain Best on hardest part of retiring". Irish Independent. 19 April 2019. Retrieved 19 April 2019.

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