Rory Best: Class of 2019 want to create their own legacy

Ulster's Rory Best after the game
Ulster's Rory Best after the game
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Six stitches in a large wound above his left eye reflects Ulster captain Rory Best had once again delivered a warrior type performance from the front in another huge success against French opposition in Belfast.

Since pulling the Ulster jersey on for the first time 15 years ago, Best has been involved in some epic games similar to the 26-22 victory over Racing 92 in a packed Kingspan Stadium on Saturday.

Ulster’s last trophy success came in 2006, when a drop goal which hit both uprights and fell over the crossbar from David Humphreys in the Liberty Stadium, Swansea, gave Ulster the Celtic League crown as they secured a late victory over Ospreys.

Humphreys was also key to Ulster’s only success in Europe, back in 1999, and he returned to the stadium where he was a huge figure along with the other heroes from that triumphant Heineken Cup success as the 20th anniversary (January 30th) draws nearer.

Since 2006, Best has been involved in Ulster teams who have reached Celtic League play-off finals, semi-finals and a Heineken Cup final (2012), but has yet to enjoy success.

The heroes of 1999 were paraded before kick-off, both teams unaware as they went through their warm-up drills.

Best joked: “ The frightening thing is you don’t want to walk around the changing room now and ask where you were when Ulster lifted the European Cup because there’s boys in there who weren’t born, boys who don’t have any recollection of it.

The current skipper went on: “For too many years we’ve looked back and thought ‘we have to replicate that’. We don’t!

“We have to create our own legacy here. We’ve got to build and see how far we can push this group.

“We talked about it in ‘06 when we won something and 2012 when we got to finals. It became words and not actions.

“We thought it would just happen and that’s the experience that we’re going to have to get into this team, that we don’t want to be sitting here in another 10 years introducing the ‘99 team again because we haven’t done anything since.

“We’ve got to pat ourselves on the back because that was a really tough ask today and we got through it.

“But we’ve got to keep trying to get better because when you look at the top teams and their thirst to keep winning things.

“I think we, some where along the way, have lost a bit of that,” adds Best who is due to retire from international rugby after leading Ireland to the World Cup in Japan later this year.