'We don’t need permission to do stuff in our own time': Best gives reason for Jackson/Olding trial attendance

Rory Best has explained his attendance at the trial of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding last Wednesday.

The Ireland and Ulster rugby captain says he is to be a character witness at the trial of his two teammates.

Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and Olding, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016. Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Speaking at a press conference after the match in Paris, Best was asked if the Irish Rugby Football Union had given him permission to attend the trial.

He said: “We sign out on a Tuesday night and Wednesday is our day off so technically we don’t need permission to do stuff in our own time.

“The reason I was there, it’s on the record I was called as a character witness, and I was advised that it is important that I got both sides of the story so I could make an informed decision about that.

“Because it is an ongoing legal matter I will not make any further comment.”

Olding and Jackson deny the charges.

Previously, Best had declined to comment on his attendance at the trial.

At the start of his regular pre-match press conference following the Ireland team's captain's run, which took place at Stade de France on Friday, Best was asked if he could explain why he went to the trial on Wednesday.

“No I have no comment,” was the captain's response.

“Can you tell us whether you were given permission from the IRFU?” came the next question, to which Best replied: “No comment”.

The Ireland skipper was also asked for his comments on the controversy his attendance at court had prompted on social media, at which point IRFU and Irish team communications manager David O Siochain intervened, saying: “Sorry, we're not going to react to comments on social media. We're here to comment on the game. Keep it game

focused.”

By Greg Murphy

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