Large numbers of Ulster Rugby fans took to social media last night to wish Stuart Olding well as he looks to rebuild his career away from his home province.
The Irish international has signed a two-year deal with French side Brive, who are in the second tier of the French league after suffering relegation earlier this month.
The move comes six weeks after his Ulster and Ireland contract was revoked following a nine-week rape trial and a subsequent review of sexually explicit private messages used in evidence.
The 25-year-old and his former Ulster team-mate Paddy Jackson were cleared in the high-profile case back in March, with two of their friends also cleared of lesser charges.
Last night, there was speculation that former Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes may investigate the possibility of signing Jackson following the Kiwi’s unveiling as Waikato head coach in New Zealand.
Olding had previously been linked with a host of clubs in England and France, and was believed to be close to signing for Sale before the club’s sponsors objected.
Brive, though, put such concerns to one side, with Olding believed to have visited the south of France at the end of last week to push through a deal.
The 1997 Heineken Cup winners will be coached by former Ulster and Ireland player Jeremy Davidson (inset left) who recently left Bordeaux to take up the job and was back in Belfast last weekend.
After the news broke, Olding’s former team-mate Stephen Ferris quickly tweeted: “Delighted for him. Good news”.
Others expressed similar sentiments. The South Wales Ulster Rugby Supporters Club posted: “Wishing Stu well for the future and hope to see him playing at Kingspan in an opposition shirt some time soon. Go well.”
When Olding and Jackson were linked to Sale, social media was flooded with opposition to the proposed move, yet there was little ire raised in France.
One Brive fan on a forum flagged Olding’s off the field baggage, but added that the opportunity to sign a player who has represented his country was too good to miss out on.