'Disrepute clause could halt stars' comebacks' - Alan
The IRFU and Ulster Rugby are deciding whether Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding will return to the game - but former player Alan Quinlan is unsure if the pair will be back on the pitch here next season.
Jackson and Olding were found not guilty of rape at a trial in Belfast on Wednesday, with the former also cleared of a sexual assault charge.
Out-half Jackson had established himself as Johnny Sexton's back-up, while Olding had picked up four international caps before the pair were stood down from their playing duties while the court case was resolved.
Now the question has become whether they will return to play for their province, and possibly their country, with the IRFU and Ulster releasing a joint statement saying the pair's future was being evaluated.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast yesterday, former Ireland international Quinlan spoke about the complexity of the situation now facing both the players and their employers.
He said he wasn't sure they would get back on the field in Ireland in the short term.
"It is a question I've been asking myself," Quinlan said.
"It is a tricky situation, maybe because of the public reaction.
"The way it has played out in public has been wrong I think.
"That is definitely going to affect the guys going back if they want to play.
"The IRFU said they will have an internal review, which is fully understandable.
"They have acknowledged that the verdict was not guilty but certainly the question will be asked, were they in breach of contract?
"Did they bring the game into disrepute?
"There are clauses in any of the contracts I would have had, and I'm sure it is the exact same for anybody signing a contract now, that if you bring the game into disrepute, if you have any sort of breaches of your contract, you can be punished for that."
Speaking outside court on Wednesday, Jackson's solicitor said his "main priority is to return to work", and Olding expressed the same desire.
The IRFU and Ulster Rugby have now launched a review, which will determine whether the pair can resume their top-level rugby careers.
Their joint statement said: "The players will continue to be relieved of all duties while the review committee is in process and determining its findings."
Jackson and Olding may now be able to relaunch their careers, but Ireland and Ulster will take time before making any further decisions regarding their future.
However, it is understood that a number of top clubs in England and France are monitoring Jackson's situation, which could provide another route back into action.