Ireland rugby captain Rory Best has spoken of his “immense pride” after being awarded an OBE at Buckingham Palace.
The veteran hooker was joined at the palace by his parents, who have both been decorated with MBEs, as he received his honour from HRH The Prince of Wales.
He said: “I suppose they can’t really believe it. When I first told my family they were shocked but absolutely delighted - it means a lot to our family, especially with mum and dad having received MBEs.
“It’s a lovely family celebration.”
Best’s father John was honoured for services to agriculture and mother Patricia for services to the public sector.
Receiving the honour for services to rugby is his greatest individual accolade to date, he added.
“You play rugby because you love it and then all of a sudden you get these awards, but I think of all the individual awards I’ve received in my career this is certainly the highest.”
Best, from Banbridge, has played for Ulster since 2004. He has been capped more than 100 times by Ireland and has also represented the British and Irish Lions.