BREAKING NEWS…PADDY JACKSON AND STUART OLDING RUGBY CONTRACTS ‘REVOKED’

PADDY Jackson and Stuart Olding have effectively been sacked this morning by their rugby employers.

Their rugby contracts have been officially revoked by the Irish Rugby Football Union, with immediate effect.

It follows a review conducted in the aftermath of recent court proceedings which centred on an exchange of text messages.

In a statement, the IRFU and Ulster Rugby said today: “In arriving at this decision, the IRFU and Ulster Rugby said they acknowledged their responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game – respect, inclusivity and integrity.

“It has been agreed, as part of this commitment, to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes, within the game in Ireland, to ensure the importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practised at every level of the game. ”

The IRFU and Ulster Rugby had been carrying out a review into the players’ future in the wake of their acquittal on rape charges last month. 

A jury of eight men and three women found Mr Jackson, 26, and Mr Olding, 25, unanimously not guilty of rape after deliberating for three hours and 45 minutes after a marathon nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.

All jurors also acquitted Mr Jackson of sexual assault.

Two other men, Blane McIlroy, 26, and Rory Harrison, 25, were also unanimously acquitted of lesser charges connected to the case.

The Ulster Rugby and IRFU review has focused on a series of sexually explicit WhatsApp conversations revealed during the trial involving the players and their friends.

A number of the club’s main sponsors expressed concern at the fallout following the court case and called on it to conclude its review swiftly.

Around 250 people staged a protest outside Ulster Rugby’s stadium yesterday ahead of the team’s first home game since the two players were acquitted of rape.

They were found not guilty of raping the same woman at a house party at Jackson’s home in June 2016.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Kingspan Stadium in east Belfast ahead of Ulster’s Pro14 match against the Ospreys to express solidarity with the woman at the centre of the case and call for changes to how complainants in rape trials are treated by the criminal justice system.

They also called for action against what they claim is a misogynistic culture within rugby.

The picket was organised by the Belfast Feminist Network.

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