RUGBY: Rory Best and Iain Henderson agree contract extensions

British Lions duo Rory Best and Iain Henderson have agreed new contract extensions with Irish Rugby.

Ireland captain, Best, who led the side to a Grand Slam success in the 2018 Six Nations Championship and has agreed an IRFU extension to the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Henderson ended speculation that he may move to England or France by agreeing a new extension deal until the summer of 2020.

Best who took over the Ireland captaincy ahead of the 2016 6 Nations Championship has won 111 caps for his country making him Ireland’s 3rd most capped player.

Under his stewardship Ireland recorded their first win over the Springbok on South African soil as well as recording a first ever victory over New Zealand in Chicago in November 2016.

At the weekend Best secured a fourth 6 Nations title and second Grand Slam title having played in the successful 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2018 campaigns.

Rory Best and Iain Henderson

Rory Best and Iain Henderson

He made his international debut against New Zealand in 2005 and has scored 9 international tries and toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2013 and 2017.

Best made his senior debut for Ulster against Munster in November 2004 and has represented his Province 204 times, scoring 21 tries.

IRFU, Performance Director, David Nucifora, said: “Rory has been an outstanding leader for Ireland and continues to produce stand-out performances at the highest level of the game. He is an important member of the Ireland leadership group and we are delighted that he will continue to play a central role in Irish Rugby.”

Commenting on his contract extension, Best said: “I am in a very privileged position as captain of Ireland and Ulster to be involved with two groups of incredibly talented players. I feel I can continue to make a contribution to both Ireland and Ulster Rugby and am delighted to have extended my IRFU contract to the next World Cup.

Support of family, friends and supporters is a hugely important element for any professional sportsperson and I would like to thank everyone for their support but specifically my wife Jodie who has been incredible and has ensured that as a family we have been able to share in all the great memories of the last few years.”

Bryn Cunningham, Operations Director at Ulster Rugby, added: "Rory will go down as one of the most successful Ireland captains in history. To have that sort of leadership and experience in our squad, both on and off the pitch, is critical. We are a squad in transition and Rory will provide that stability and assuredness, while being a role model to our young players coming through, showing what it means to play for Ulster and the high standards we expect from all."