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Ulster must explain why Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were sacked, says Paddy Wallace

Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding always denied wrongdoing but admitted their conduct was inappropriate.
Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding always denied wrongdoing but admitted their conduct was inappropriate.
Former Ulster player Paddy Wallace.

By Ger Keville

Former Ulster and Ireland star Paddy Wallace has called on the province to explain why they sacked Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

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The IRFU and Ulster Rugby announced on Saturday that the players were to depart after conducting a joint-review into their conduct.

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Jackson and Olding were acquitted of rape at a trial in Belfast last month, with out-half Jackson also found not guilty of sexual assault.

The joint statement highlighted that "the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby acknowledge our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: Respect, Inclusivity and Integrity".

Sections of Ulster fans are considering protests at the club's next game and some have even called for a boycott of this weekend's home match against Glasgow.

Speaking to RTE Radio, Wallace said: "The decision itself was probably the decision that had to be made given the public pressure that was mounting and also the sponsorship issue.

"There is a sense from the fans... that they have been left in the dark a bit. Quite a vague statement has come out and, just gauging the temperature of the Supporters Clubs, they feel they need a bit more information as to how they came to that decision.

"I have my own views on that but someone in Ulster Rugby has to come out and make that very clear."

Former Ulster player Paddy Wallace.

Wallace also pointed out that he agreed with the Ulster and IRFU statement and agrees that Jackson and Olding need to move on to "rebuild their brand". But he reiterated the frustration among the Kingspan Stadium faithful.

"The vast majority in official Supporters Clubs are very disappointed," added Wallace.

"I think that's because they are fans of the game. They probably feel that these guys have been acquitted and they are being judged on their text messages which were obviously completely out of order and that is the core issue here.

"That is why they are moving on, they didn't meet the code of conduct Irish and Ulster players are held to.

"From that point of view, there was no decision to be made. I think the supporters, because they want to see Ulster being successful on the pitch, are sad to see the two players moving on."

Bank of Ireland were one sponsor to raise concerns around the high-profile case and subsequent acquittal and Wallace feels that sponsorship played an integral role in Ulster's decision.

"A lot of supporters will not renew their season tickets but Ulster have to look at the macro issue. Sponsorship accounts for €12million of the revenue generated while ticket sales is only over €3million. It was kind of a no brainer from a monetary point of view and that's probably what they based their decision on."

Jackson and Olding have reportedly attracted interest from French and English clubs and Wallace predicts the pair will be back on the pitch soon.

"Paddy Jackson is an international 10 and he is a goal kicker too so they are very hard to come by. He has already been linked to one of the French giants in Clermont Auvergne and I think his signature will be sought after.

"And Stuart is a quality player who has been dogged with injury the past number of years. He has been linked with the Exeter Chiefs, the Premiership champions so you can see there is interest circulating already for these players.

"They have come out and apologised for their involvement and their actions and I think they need to be allowed rebuild their lives and start again."


From Belfast Telegraph