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Thursday 21 June 2018

Sacked rugby players won't return to team - Ulster rugby chief

Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding. Photo: PA
Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding. Photo: PA

The head of Ulster rugby has said he does not "envisage" Paddy Jackson or Stuart Olding playing for Ulster or Ireland again.

Jackson and Olding had their contracts revoked "with immediate effect" at the weekend.

They were both acquitted of raping a woman after a nine-week trial that ended last month.

Ulster Rugby boss Shane Logan was speaking for the first time since Ulster revoked the players' contracts and admitted that he did not foresee them returning to play for the province in the future.

"That is not something that is being envisaged," he said.

He also revealed that money did not drive the decision to sack the rugby stars.

Mistake

Logan also rejected criticism that the two players, whose contracts were revoked at the weekend, had been effectively hung out to dry by their club and country.

Logan, who has refused to quit his position as chief executive, said he believed both men had made a "serious mistake" but he hoped they would have success elsewhere.

"They have done a lot for Ulster and Irish rugby," he said.

"They have made a very serious mistake. I hope that they will learn from that and I hope they fulfil their potential going forward."

The high-profile trial which ran for nine weeks at Belfast Crown Court brought to light a number of sexually explicit and offensive text exchanges which sparked a wave of protest on social media and on the streets.

However, Logan batted away claims that the Ireland Rugby Football Union had caved in to the baying Twitter mob or that the decision was motivated by money.

"No sponsor, including Bank of Ireland, drove the decision," he added.

"We have taken on board everybody's views right across society, right across our supporter group, our sponsor group, our players, clubs, volunteers, we are part of society.

"But at the end of the day, having looked at all those things, the decision was based on alignment with what it is we stand for in particular the value of respect."

Earlier, former Ulster star Paddy Wallace called for an explanation over the dismissal of Jackson and Olding - but insisted it was the right decision for all parties involved.

"I think it was the only option for both sides. Sponsors were publicly making their views known and that would have hit Ulster in the pocket," he said.

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