Rory Best encourages public to get nominating for Grandparent of the Year
"Growing up, there was only rugby. Well, rugby and farming."
Rory Best still heads off to the far end of the dinner table, whenever he goes back to the family home, and enjoys nothing more than talking rugby with his brothers and his father, John.
"You'd be out somewhere, when I was younger, and somebody would come up. You'd say, 'Dad, who was that?'
"He'd go, 'I don't know where I know him from. It's either rugby or farming'."
It was always either rugby or farming. That was the life, and it was one Best thrived in.
Now retired, after stretching out his playing career three weeks by turning out for the Barbarians, Best is feeling out the next moves in his life. His Ireland career ended two weeks earlier than he would have liked. Ireland wanted to reach a World Cup semi-final but they felt they had a good shake at winning the thing. That they did not will stay with their captain for some time yet.
You can talk to him about his longevity in the game, the trophies and accolades along the way and the challenges he has overcome, but the World Cup failures sting and Best has to live with that.
The Ulster and Ireland legend - one of only two players [the other being Rob Kearney] - to participate in two Grand Slam triumphs is going to enjoy time with his family, up to and a couple of weeks after Christmas, before seeing what 2020, and the years beyond, hold in store.
In his role as ambassador for Specsavers Audiologists’ Grandparent of the Year 2019 award, Best sat down with Jerry Flannery for a wide-ranging interview on Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby [below].
Grandparent of the Year 2019 award 'celebrates and recognises the extraordinary contribution that grandparents make to the lives of grandchildren and the community'.
Rory, together with his father, John, helped launch this year’s awards that looks for Ireland’s most exceptional grandparent, and he is encouraging grandchildren across the country to start nominating.
"My two older brothers and my dad have been incredible mentors for me," says Best. "They introduced me into the game and thought me about it, but I'd like to think I evolved my own opinions about it, and found my own way.
"But we all have similar views about the game and the way it should be played. Even my grandfather, it used to destroy him whenever he was watching mini rugby and it was all route one and people running it up the middle. His favourite phrase was, 'Let it out. Let it out!' He thought the game should be played with the full width of the pitch."
With such a strong rugby presence, and support, within his family, Best struck out on his own path and was soon drafted into the Ulster and Ireland age grade teams before making his senior Ulster debut in 2004. He never looked back:
"When we first came into the squad together, I definitely didn't look much like an athlete or a professional rugby player"
Full @RoryBest2 and @jerryflannery chat here: https://t.co/x4xNLLzUmO#HouseofRugby with @GuinnessIreland pic.twitter.com/5NfD9LkHSQ
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) December 12, 2019
Now that he has retired, Best is mulling his next moves. Farming will play a role but Best is willing to try some new paths before he does fully look at getting back into that lifestyle.
"I'm not necessarily sure I want to pull on a tracksuit and coach every day," he says. "I think that if you want to do that, you have to be prepared to move away."
"I don't know if that's my passion anyway," he adds. "But I like to see the bigger picture. Like, this is how I want us to get from A to B. Right, you're the coach. You tell me today how you're going to get us there. That type of thing.
"I don't know if there is necessarily a role like that in rugby. It's a bit like a soccer manager. Rugby hasn't evolved to that level yet, where it's just sort of that amount of money [there]."
*Rory Best, a Specsavers Audiologists’ Ambassador, was launching the Specsavers Grandparent of the Year Award 2019. If your grandchildren would like to nominate a grandparent, just follow this link.
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Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble are joined in the House of Rugby studio by Jerry Flannery to look back on all the latest Champions Cup action. Rory Best also drops in for a chat with Jerry.