Jackson and Olding lose Ireland and Ulster contracts following rape trial acquittal

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have had their Ireland and Ulster contracts terminated, following a review of the recent trial in which they were acquitted of rape charges.

The Ireland internationals were cleared of rape at Belfast Crown Court last month, with Jackson also found not guilty of sexual assault.

Both men had denied raping the same woman at a party at Jackson's home in June 2016.

Although Jackson and Olding were cleared of criminal charges, they have faced criticism over the content of explicit WhatsApp conversations that emerged during the trial between the players and their friends.

"Following a review, conducted in the aftermath of recent court proceedings, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have revoked the contracts of Patrick Jackson and Stuart Olding with immediate effect," read a joint statement from the IRFU and Ulster on Saturday.

"In arriving at this decision, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby acknowledge our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: respect, inclusivity and integrity.

"It has been agreed, as part of this commitment, to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes within the game in Ireland, to ensure the importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practised at every level of the game."

A protest calling for Ulster to address the conduct of the two players took place ahead of Friday's Pro14 victory over the Ospreys, while opposing newspaper adverts calling for the dismissal and reinstatement of the pair have also been taken out.

Another Ulster player, Craig Gilroy, has been sanctioned in relation to a lewd WhatsApp message sent to Olding and will be unavailable for selection until April 26.

Gilroy apologised for the "totally inappropriate" message in a tweet earlier this month.

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