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Jackson and Olding to leave Ulster as fallout from court case continues

By Brendan Fanning

The IRFU is expected to announce its decision on the contracts of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding today.

It is understood the internal review concluded on Wednesday and the players have been informed of the outcome, but an IRFU source maintains there are still loose ends to be tied up.

Both players had been cleared of a rape charge a fortnight ago after a nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court. In addition, Jackson had been found not guilty of sexual assault.

Their positions remained under scrutiny as support became polarised. The pair have been suspended by Ulster Rugby while this review takes place.

Despite being acquitted, lurid WhatsApp messages sent by the players - which were used as evidence in court - prompted a backlash from sections of support who do not want to see them play for Ulster Rugby or Ireland again.

Both sides of the debate have taken out advertisements in the Belfast Telegraph to voice their opinions.

Last night, more than 200 people protested outside Ulster's Kingspan Stadium calling for the club to end its silence on the matter.

When contacted, a spokesman for Ulster Rugby said it would not be discussing the matter until the review is concluded.

"The IRFU and Ulster Rugby have advised that a review process is under way and it would be inappropriate to comment on any matter pertaining to that process until it is completed," the spokesman said.

Bank of Ireland, which is one of the club's main sponsors, has also said that it is reviewing the situation.

The bank - whose name and logo appear on the back of Ulster jerseys - said that it was "highly concerned".

It said in a statement: "The bank has formally conveyed these concerns to the CEO of Ulster Rugby.

"It is of paramount importance to Bank of Ireland that our sponsorship activity aligns with and supports our core values, and reflects positively on Bank of Ireland through association.

"We understand that an internal review is under way. We expect this review to be robust, to fully address the issues raised, and that decisions will be taken - and policies and protocols be put in place - that fully address the issues that have arisen."

However, a number of former players have called for the players to be reinstated in the team.

Earlier this week, Ireland great Willie John McBride said that it was time "they were back playing rugby again".

Belfast Telegraph

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