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Sunday 22 April 2018

Jackson to rebuild his career in France as UK club deny Olding link

Stuart Olding and (below) Paddy Jackson out and about in Belfast after their contracts were revoked last week
Stuart Olding and (below) Paddy Jackson out and about in Belfast after their contracts were revoked last week

Paddy Jackson is believed to be in negotiations with leading French clubs to rebuild his career after his contract with Ulster and Ireland was revoked.

The departure of Jackson and Stuart Olding from Irish rugby was announced by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Ulster Rugby after they conducted a joint review into their conduct surrounding their trial for rape.

Both players were acquitted at a trial in Belfast last month. However, derogatory messages sent in a WhatsApp group, which were disclosed during the trial, led many people to call for the IRFU and Ulster to sever ties with them.

The pair are now looking to get their rugby careers back on track. However, reports that Olding was said to be close to signing a deal with English champions Exeter Chiefs have been shot down by the club.

Forwards coach Rob Hunter insisted Olding "is not on our radar at all", following Exeter's 45-5 league win over London Irish yesterday.

Paddy Jackson
Paddy Jackson

Asked to comment on reports linking Olding with the Chiefs, Mr Hunter said: "I can tell you what I know, which is absolutely nothing. It's not something that we've discussed in the office.

"So it's another one of those where we've been linked to somebody but we've not spoken to an agent and we've not spoken to a player.

"It's not on our radar at all. We get linked to lots of players. It's just not on our radar, it's nothing to do with us really."

However, Jackson, who was back-up to Johnny Sexton with the Irish team before he was stood down from playing duties during the trial process, is expected to sign with a top French club, possibly Clermont Auvergne.

An announcement on his future is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

The club was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Settlement

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Jackson and Olding are to be paid off by the IRFU in a settlement which will be close to their contract value.

This follows the decision to revoke the players' contracts, and the payment is seen as a corporate clean-up exercise.

A source said a mutual termination was agreed between the players and the IRFU, which would prevent a long drawn-out disciplinary hearing and allow the players and the Union to move on. It would also give Jackson and Olding time and space to talk to clubs abroad.

"A mutual termination was agreed and a financial settlement was also agreed by both parties," a source said.

"The boys will forever be bound by a confidentiality clause, as will the IRFU on the financial side of it, but I can tell you that it is close to the contract value of the players."

Jackson and Olding were both on contracts valued at between €100,000 and €300,000, with Jackson earning more than Olding.

The contracts were due to expire in the summer of 2019.

The decision to axe Jackson and Olding has been welcomed by Safe Ireland, the national social change agency working to end violence against women.

Its chief executive, Sharon O'Halloran, said that she "welcomed particularly that it had been hardwired to the core values of rugby that Irish people are so proud of and expect - that is respect, inclusivity and integrity".

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