Rory Best hailed as a 'rock' by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt

Rory Best is mobbed by his team mates after his last game in the Aviva Stadium
Rory Best is mobbed by his team mates after his last game in the Aviva Stadium

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt paid tribute to captain Rory Best at the end of a day which saw both make their final appearances at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

In a fitting finale to both men who will retire at the end of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, Ireland went top of the World Rugby rankings with an industrious 19-10 win over Wales to complete their preparations on a high for the forthcoming tournament.

Best was given a rousing reception when he led the team on, a standing ovation when he was replaced in the second half and the Aviva Stadium stood as one for a huge standing roar at the end while during a post-match pitch side interview.

Later Schmidt, when asked to pick a highlight from the day, said: “I think for me, because I see how hard he works and because he is a bit for a rock for us, I think the standing ovation for Rory Best was absolutely merited.”

The 37-year-old Best, who had made his debut 14 years previously and on Saturday won his 120th cap, at times showed some emotion.

But it was fitting that he was to bow out of his final game in the green shirt in Dublin on a happy note.

“This place has been unbelievably special for me over many, many years. The support we got today summed up the support we’ve got throughout my career.

“I can still remember coming off the bench and coming down into the corner here into a scrum alongside my brother [Simon]. Those are the things you remember, the little bits and pieces, the trips to the stadium on the bus, the moments after the games when you look around the stadium and everyone’s wrecked, when you’ve given your all for this jersey.

“These moments are made special by your team by your family and by so many people.”

Ireland will open their World Cup Pool A quest with a game against Scotland on September 22, before facing hosts, Japan, Russia and Samoa.