Rory Best talks with such ruthless clarity about the moment that broke England's spirit 2 years ago

Rory Best talks with such ruthless clarity about the moment that broke England's spirit

"It feels more special, not only because of starting every game but captaining the side."

You will struggle to find a man in the game of rugby as well liked as Rory Best. Peers, teammates, rivals, media members, charity organisations and fans will all have lovely, personal Rory Best anecdotes that often make you wonder how he squeezes in being a rugby player.

Before he could take his seat for the post-match press conference, at Twickenham, he must have shook two dozen extended hands. A Grand Slam champion for the second time but this one tasted even sweeter. He commented:

"Every kid grows up dreaming of playing for Ireland, but to win something while captaining in that special green jersey is the stuff that dreams are made of. It's the biggest highlight of my career."

One of the interesting aspects of Ireland's Grand Slam push, and of their rugby over the past three years, is that there is a leadership nexus. Best makes the final call but he often cedes to the advice or urgings of other senior players on the team [such as Johnny Sexton, Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray].

It was that cohort of proven winners that were responsible for a decision that would essentially break England's spirit and seal a famous Irish victory.

Having given up just five points - to lead 14-5 - during O'Mahony's trip to the sin bin, Ireland were awarded a couple of penalties by referee Angus Gardner. Up in the stands, James Downey was urging Ireland to run down the clock while in possession and get to half-time with a nine-point lead.

As the clock headed towards red [past 40:00], the former Munster and Ireland centre, who was on commentary duty for RTE, was thinking to himself, 'Kick it out. Kick it out!'

No chance.

Ireland won their own attacking lineout near halfway and surged forward. They eventually committed enough English bodies to leave Richard Wigglesworth with Murray and Jacob Stockdale to deal with. Murray drew in his opposite number and, with a deft pass, set Stockdale away.

The Ulster winger did the rest.

It would have been so easy to kick that ball out to go in 14-5 ahead at the break but that's not Ireland's style. Following the game, Best told us:

"It's our mentality to go and attack. We want the ball and we want to retain the ball. We don't just want to get it off [the pitch]. We feel that we are fit and we obviously train to play in those moments.

"Those are the moments. Look, if we had've lost momentum, we would have said 'Right', and got the ball out. 

"But when you have momentum, and at that time of the game... sometimes, either side of half-time, teams can switch off a bit and you can capitalise. For us, it's all about how we feel in the game and while you have the ball, you have to attack the game. We knew we had to do that against England because if you sit back and expect them to hand you something, well, that's just not going to happen.

"That was our mentality and that's what we committed to all week."

Stockdale's try was converted by Joey Carbery and Ireland went 21-5 up. England were never coming back from that.

That score made it 31 points Ireland had scored, over the course of the championship, in injury time either at the end of the first or second half. Incredible stuff. All Blacks carry on.