IRFU confirm Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding's contracts have been revoked

IRFU confirm Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding's contracts have been revoked

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were cleared by a jury on a unanimous verdict last month following a nine-week trial in Belfast.

The IRFU/Ulster Rugby statement said: "In arriving at this decision, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby acknowledge our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: Respect, inclusivity and integrity".

The alleged victim, then 19, said she was raped by Jackson at his home and forced to perform a sex act on Olding.

Despite being unanimously acquitted last month the pair had faced a backlash on social media, on the streets and in the mainstream media over unedifying text messages they exchanged after the night out that led to the rape accusation.

"I am deeply disappointed about the outcome of the IRFU and Ulster Rugby's internal review", Jackson said in a statement.

But he added that he was "truly sorry" his behaviour had fallen "far short of the values" expected of him as an global player.

"I am very sorry that this day has come to pass".

Stuart Olding also issued a statement upon the release of his contract being terminated.

It was announced officially yesterday that their rugby contracts have been revoked, following an internal review done by the Irish Rugby and Football Union (IRFU) and Ulster Rugby.

"With the support of my family and friends I shall now seek new challenges elsewhere. The treatment that I have received since my acquittal, both fair and unfair, has made me even more determined to prove myself".

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout this process".

Willie John McBride, a celebrated former player for the Ireland rugby team, which represents both parts of the island, gave the players more measured support on a Dublin-based radio show this past week.

"The substantive issue here is that the players' contracts have been revoked with immediate effect, beyond that we have no further comment to make".

He will be unavailable for selection by Ulster until 26 April 2018. In the aftermath, several reports emerged of English and French clubs interested in both players- Jackson being linked with Clermont while Olding has been linked with Exeter Chiefs.

"We are not second-class citizens in Northern Ireland and we deserve to be treated just as well as the Ulster men".

Thousands of people on both sides of the argument have also signed competing online petitions reflecting their views.

The demonstrators displayed messages to "stamp out" misogyny and sexism in sport and they are calling on rugby and other sporting bodies to address what they claim are prevailing misogynistic attitudes.