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Rory Best's reason for not singing the Ireland national anthem isn't what you would expect

By Liam Heagney
Rory Best stays quiet while Jack McGrath and Simon Zebo since Ireland's Call in Cardiff in 2017 (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Veteran Ireland skipper Rory Best has told The Rugby Pod why he doesn’t sing either the Irish national anthem or Ireland’s Call prior to a Test match. 


The 36-year-old, a veteran of 117 Test matches for his country, is due to retire from playing at the end of the World Cup finals in Japan. 

His long innings in the Ireland green commenced with a November 2005 debut off the bench against New Zealand. Fourteen years later, during an appearance on the weekly podcast hosted by RugbyPass’ Jim Hamilton and Andy Goode, he explained why pre-game signing has never been his thing.      

“I didn’t sing it really because I enjoy getting absolutely massacred on social media after the game for not signing it,” he quipped during the show which also featured Darren Cave, his former Ireland and Ulster team-mate. 

“That’s one of the highlights, refreshing Twitter and people abusing me for not singing the anthem. Playing for Ireland wouldn’t be the same without that obviously, that massive encouragement that I get.”

Adopting a more serious tone, Best continued: “Look, the thing is, it’s so ironic that you get abused for it and nobody’s ever stopped and asked you, ‘Why don’t you sing it?’


“It goes back to my Ireland schools’ days. You know what it’s like playing Ireland schools, you think it’s going to be the greatest honour you are ever going to achieve.

“You’re playing for Ireland. Being from rugby families like we were, you’re going, ‘This is incredible!’ You get so emotionally charged for it. And Ireland’s Call comes on – you have heard that so many times in the old Lansdowne Road or watching on TV and you’re belting it out.

“I remember we played France or England. Kicked off. I’m flying up going, ‘The first guy is getting it!’ They catch it, kick it out and I’m then turning around, running back to get a ball, still thinking, ‘Somebody’s going to get it’. 


“I fired this throw-in and it went… like I sort of tell the story that it went three times the height of the person I was throwing it to, it wasn’t that bad! It flew over the top.

“From then on, I went, I can’t go into a game… because it’s so emotive to me, Ireland’s Call. Actually, even the tail end of the Irish national anthem, you know the way you get that build-up for that crescendo at the end. 

“They are memories I have from going to the old Lansdowne Road to watch, this build-up, and then the massive cheer, and then Ireland’s Call coming on.

“The problem is then, I worry that it’s going to happen in a big game. That we’re going to kick off against the All Blacks, Beauden Barrett is going to catch it, kick it out and then I’m fully charged, trying to focus in. And it is such a core skill. 

“It’s a bit like goalkicking. You have to get your heart rate down, you have to focus, get your breathing back, and focus for that split second to throw the perfect throw. That is just why I did it. I don’t know whether it would affect me as much now, but I’m not prepared to take the chance.”

WATCH: Joe Schmidt speaks to the media following Ireland’s win last Saturday over Italy in Dublin

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Rory Best's reason for not singing the Ireland national anthem isn't what you would expect