Exclusive: Rory Best Reflects on Ireland's Six Nations Campaign and Career Highlights

In an exclusive interview with, former Irish rugby union player Rory Best reflects on his illustrious career, discusses the team's resilience, compares their standing in rugby history, and advocates for inclusivity.

Neil Goulding
Neil Goulding

Last Updated: 2024-03-18

5 minutes read

Rory Best in a black jacket

The Irish rugby team came ever so close to a maiden semi-final on the sport’s grandest stage in France last year but suffered a gut-wrenching 28-24 defeat to New Zealand as a sense of what could have been quickly swelled over the proud nation. Andy Farrell’s outfit wasdrop-kick bidding to become the first side in history to complete back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations. Those dreams were ripped away with a painful last-gasp 23-22 drop kick defeat to England at Twickenham last weekend.  

But the Irish side returns home to the Aviva Stadium knowing victory over Scotland on Saturday, a team they have beaten nine times in a row, will see them follow in the footsteps of the famous side that retained their treasured Six Nations crown in back 2015. Hooker Rory Best, a two-time Grand Slam winner himself, was part of the fabled squad which successfully defended the title. 

Best on Ireland's World Cup Disappointment Fueling Six Nations Charge 

Speaking to in an exclusive interview, he said: “The way the World Cup campaign ended I think would have given them massive desire to come back and win the Six Nations again.” The former rugby player added, "I think they have great belief in what they’re doing and where they’re going. You don’t become a significantly better or significantly worse team because of one result.”

"For them, it’s about always improving. Of course, they would have wanted to get to the semi-final and seen where they could have gone,” Best went on to explain. “But you are always looking towards the next thing and I think that would have been the same even if they won the final. They would have turned around and thought how can we be better? The problem that everyone outside of that group, to varying degrees, is that there is a gross under-appreciation of how tough it is to go away in international rugby and especially in the Six Nations, especially Twickenham.” 

Ireland’s Standing in Rugby History 

Best, a four-time Six Nations winner in his comp, fully expects Farrell’s outfit to bounce back and claim back-to-back Six Nations titles. And the former Irish captain, capped a staggering 124 times for his country, believes they are one of the best sides to have ever graced the game - comparing them to Martin Johnson’s famous England World Cup-winning side in 2003. “I think they are right up there with the best,” insisted Best. “If they had won back-to-back Grand Slams they would have been the best team ever in the Six Nations.” 

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At the end of the day, you’re judged largely on history and what you do at the World Cup.

Best continued, “Obviously, Martin Johnson’s team in ’03 won the World Cup and I think that sets them aside. But in terms of how they play and what they bring out of the opposition they are one of the best teams I’ve ever seen. We’ll see how they’ll recover because they haven’t had to turnaround after a performance where they’ve lost. There’s been a shock and they have to turn it around and produce something because this team has largely had a momentum drive in the last 18 months.” 

Image Credits: Sky Sports

Image Credits: Sky Sports

Reflecting on Career Highlights 

Reflecting on his own illustrious career, Best said: "Six Nations wise it was the Grand Slam in ’18 was a big one for me. "Making my first start against Wales at Cardiff, scoring a try from a triple charge down early on. There were so many.”  

"My proudest thing is probably playing over 50 consecutive Six Nations games in a row. One short of the record. To play that many consecutive games shows how you are able to keep your form and be durable. Captaining Ireland in the Six Nations, I think it was 16 times, is also something I’m proud of. Those are all things you'll never forget." 

Advocating for Inclusivity with Kahlua 

Best has recently become an ambassador ofthat  drinks brand Kahlua, who have found 60% of Brits would rather drink an espresso martini over a stout to celebrate St Patrick's Day this weekend. And the former front rower wants to help take the stigma away from having to drink pints to celebrate the occasion.

“Espresso martini is a drink that I enjoy,” added Best. "When they sent the research through that the majority of Irish people want to order a cocktail but order an alternative through fear of judgment. That’s the type of stuff I like in a campaign. I like to campaign for something that potentially makes people feel more comfortable.”

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I like to campaign for something that potentially makes people feel more comfortable. “It’s something that when I played rugby I wanted to make people feel comfortable and feel involved and be themselves. You hear it a lot in rugby settings about making people feel comfortable and then you get the best out of them.

Best stresses the importance of creating an environment where individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves.  He believes that it brings out their best, whether it's in sports, the workplace, or in their personal lives.  

Discover more exclusive insights from rugby legends and stay connected with for the latest updates on rugby. Join us as we delve deeper into the world of rugby and celebrate the sport's triumphs and challenges together. 

Neil Goulding
Neil GouldingSenior Sports Reporter

Neil has been a journalist for longer than he'd care to remember, having written for national newspapers and respected publications for over 25 years. For the last three years he has worked freelance for BBC Sport, working on the production desk as a sub-editor and also as a writer, covering a whole range of sports.