While he does have a British passport, Rory Best never had any intention of playing international rugby for anyone but Ireland.
The former Ireland and Ulster captain was on Off The Ball and spoke about his identity and his childhood growing up in Poyntzpass, Northern Ireland.
“I think as Irish captain it comes down to one simple thing. My love and my ambition has always been to play for Ireland. Going as a kid to watch Ulster games and going to the old Lansdowne Road to watch Ireland.
“Obviously it’s very different to the kids now you know, there wasn’t professional rugby when I was young.
“So it wasn’t a dream to play professional rugby but it was a dream - and a dream that you didn’t think was actually achievable - to play for Ulster and Ireland.
“It seemed so far away from a little village in Poyntzpass. From a rugby point of view, that’s my identity,” Best said.
The former British and Irish Lions is extremely proud to have captained both his province and his country and always gave 100% to each side.
“I like to think I gave as much to the Ulster jersey as much as I did to the Ireland jersey and vice versa.
“Look ultimately I live in Northern Ireland and when you write on your passport form or whatever it is, I have a British passport.
“If you’re asking me would I want to play for any other country in the world it would be not a chance. Ireland is the only country I’ve ever dreamed of playing for,” Best commented.
In Northern Ireland, citizens can identify as British or Irish (or both) under the Good Friday Agreement and Best believes this mix of identities is a positive thing.
“Like I say, it is so unique to this island to have that. But it’s also such a brilliant thing that right through my childhood, it’s not a thing.
“We were a rugby family so our weekends were Banbridge Rugby Club and the occasional interprovincial or touring team [match against Ulster]. And then when you looked forward to the Six Nations.
“Now when I was a bit younger, as much as anything, it was the stop in at Monasterboice for a steak on the way home was as much of a draw it was the rugby.
“Because I did like rugby but I was young and I liked my food,” Best said.
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