Ex-Ireland rugby captain Rory Best reveals Covid-19 lockdowns helped him cope with retirement

Ireland’s Rory Best with his three children (L to R) Penny, Richie and Ben (Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

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Former Ireland rugby captain Rory Best said he enjoyed being stuck at home during Covid-19 lockdowns as it helped him get used to life in retirement.

Best, 38, retired from professional rugby after the 2019 Rugby World Cup – and the coronavirus crisis hit just four months later.

He said that living through lockdowns when restrictions were placed on playing sport helped him to adjust to life in retirement.

Best said: "Covid helped in a way. The hardest thing when you finish professional rugby is to not look at a game and think 'I could still be out there'.

"There was no rugby at all for six months not long after I retired so I didn't have that.

"When it did come back and was played in front of spectators, I was nearly a year older and pretty sure that I couldn't play like that anymore.

"It allowed that transition to be a bit smoother."

The Armagh man also said he didn't realise how much rugby consumed his life despite being captain of the Irish team.

He told the RTE Guide: "I think what I'm enjoying most from retirement is having my weekends back, to spend with the family.

"And the mood of the weekend isn't dictated by the result of a rugby game.

"It didn't just consume my life. It consumed the lives of everyone around me at certain points of the year.

"You get so self-absorbed with that the next match is and what you have to do to prepare for it that I probably didn't spend enough time looking around and realising just how understanding everyone was being.

Best has been working as a virtual skills coach with the Seattle Seawolves rugby team in the US
(Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland)

"Now, I look back and realise the amazing support I had and it was what made rugby that little bit easier, achievable and bearable at times."

Best has been working as a virtual skills coach with the Seattle Seawolves rugby team in the US – and said he plans to continue working in the sport even though he's now retired.

He said: "I enjoyed doing it and it was good to keep me involved and look at rugby from a different perspective.

"I'd like to stay involved in some way because it's something I love doing and it's given me so much that I'd like to give something back.

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"In terms of being a full-time coach, there's aspects of my life now, like having weekends again, that I really enjoy.

"I love the game. I didn't just happen to be good at it.

"From a young age, rugby was all I wanted to play and know."

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