Jackson and Olding have contracts terminated by IRFU and Ulster Rugby

The Rugby Union body has come under pressure from sponsors

Jackson and Olding have contracts terminated by IRFU and Ulster Rugby

File photos of Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding. Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 11:03

The IRFU and Ulster Rugby have revoked the contracts of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding with immediate effect.

The rugby union bodies said the decision was taken based on “our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: Respect, Inclusivity and Integrity.”

The organisations have also committed to conducting an “in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes” within Irish Rugby.

The review is aimed at ensuring the “importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practiced at every level of the game.” 

Acquittal

Two weeks ago, the two men were found not guilty of rape following a nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Jackson was also cleared of sexual assault.

Two other men, Blane McIlroy, 26, and Rory Harrison, 25, were acquitted of lesser charges connected to the case.

"Deeply disappointed"

In a statement to the Press Association Mr Jackson said he is “deeply disappointed” at the decision to revoke his contract.

He said he recognises that his behaviour has “fallen far short of the values expected of me [...] as a role model for the game of rugby.

He said his focus "in the months and years ahead will be on rebuilding the trust placed in me by the people throughout Ulster and Ireland."

"New challenges"

Stuart Olding meanwhile has also expressed his regret at the decision.

He noted that he already said outside the court that “the Stuart Olding you read about in the trial is not the real Stuart Olding.”

“The treatment that I have received since my acquittal, both fair and unfair, has made me even more determined to prove myself.

“With the support of my family and friends I shall seek new challenges elsewhere.

“I bear no one any ill will.”

Gilroy

The two men's Ulster teammate Craig Gilroy has also been sanctioned over a text message sent following the alleged incident in 2016.

He will be unavailable for selection until April 26th.

Ulster’s last match of the season is against Munster at Thomond Park on April 28th.

Sponsors

Both Ulster Rugby and the IRFU have come under pressure from sponsors to deal with the "issues" raised during the trial.

Official shirt sponsor Bank of Ireland has said it is "highly concerned" about the "serious behaviour and conduct issues."

WhatsApp

Protests have continued in the wake of the verdicts over degrading and offensive WhatsApp messages between the players and their friends, which became public knowledge during the trial.

Hundreds of people staged a demonstration outside Ulster Rugby's stadium on Friday over "dangerous and harmful" sexism in sport.

Kellie Turtle, an organiser of the “Stamp out Misogyny at Ulster Rugby” protest said: “This is to send a message to Ulster Rugby and the IRFU to take action on what we see as a very worrying underbelly of sexism and misogyny.”

"It's not about the verdict in this trial, it's about what has been revealed about certain players attitudes towards women that have been described as offensive, but for me it's not offensive, it's dangerous and harmful."

Bandwagon

Many Ulster fans attending the team's game against Ospreys did not agree.

One supporter said he wanted to see the players reinstated because "everyone deserves a second chance."

A female Ulster supporter, who asked not to be named, said: "I Think it's a load of nonsense, the guys have been tried for what they were accused of and that's it.”

"The WhatsApp stuff would never have come out if this case had not have gone ahead,” she said.

"This is a whole load of people jumping on the bandwagon."

The announcement is expected later this afternoon.

Reporting from IRN ...