Ulster Rugby players cleared of rape to leave club


Ulster Rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are to leave the club after they were acquitted of rape charges, Sky sources say.

A statement from the club and Irish Rugby Football Union is expected on Saturday after a review into the players’ future.

Ireland international players Jackson, 26, and Olding, 25, were found not guilty of rape last month following a trial at Belfast Crown Court. Jackson was also cleared of sexual assault.

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

Protests have continued in the wake of the verdicts over degrading and offensive WhatsApp messages between the players and their friends, which became public knowledge during the trial.

Hundreds of people staged a demonstration outside Ulster Rugby’s stadium on Friday over “dangerous and harmful” sexism in sport.

Protesters were campaigning against misogynistic attitudes revealed in the rape trial
Image: Protesters said they were demonstrating against a ‘worrying underbelly of sexism and misogyny’

The “Stamp out Misogyny at Ulster Rugby” protest was about changing attitudes and raising awareness in the wake of the rape trial, rally organisers claimed.

One of the event organisers, Kellie Turtle, told Sky News: “This is to send a message to Ulster Rugby and the IRFU to take action on what we see as a very worrying underbelly of sexism and misogyny.

“It’s not about the verdict in this trial, it’s about what has been revealed about certain players attitudes towards women that have been described as offensive, but for me it’s not offensive, it’s dangerous and harmful.”

The Stamp out Misogyny at Ulster Rugby protest
Image: The Stamp out Misogyny at Ulster Rugby protest

Many Ulster fans attending the team’s game against Ospreys did not agree.

One supporter told Sky News he wanted to see the players reinstated because “everyone deserves a second chance”.

A female Ulster supporter, who asked not to be named, said: “Think it’s a load of nonsense, the guys have been tried for what they were accused of and that’s it.

“The WhatsApp stuff would never have come out if this case had not have gone ahead.

“This is a whole load of people jumping on the bandwagon.”

More from Northern Ireland

Both Ulster Rugby and the IRFU have come under pressure from sponsors to deal with the “issues” raised during the trial.

Official shirt sponsor Bank of Ireland has said it is “highly concerned” about the “serious behaviour and conduct issues”, according to The Irish Times.

From – SkyNews


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