Two Ulster and Ireland players to appear in court charged with rape

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Two Ulster and Ireland rugby stars are due in court later to face rape charges.

Paddy Jackson, 25, and Stuart Olding, 24, strenuously deny the offences, which were alleged to have been committed against the same woman in Belfast last June.

Olding, of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, is charged with two counts of rape. Jackson, of Oakleigh Park in the city, is charged with one count of rape and one count of sexual assault.

The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have said Jackson and Olding will not play again until the court process concludes.

Given the length of time proceedings take in Northern Ireland, it is likely both will miss the entirety of the coming season at the very least.

The men were arrested and questioned last summer. They were released pending a report being submitted to prosecutors in Northern Ireland.

Last month, the Public Prosecution Service decided they had a case to answer and summons were served.

They are due before a district judge in Belfast on Wednesday morning to face the charges.

Two other men have also been charged in connection with the same case.

Blane McIlroy, 25, from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is charged with one count of exposure.

Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Fly half Jackson has been capped for Ireland 25 times while centre Olding has played four times.

The two backs are established stars for Ulster Rugby.

Last month, lawyers for Jackson and Olding stressed that the men denied the charges.

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