London Irish head coach insists the majority of fans support decision to sign Paddy Jackson
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London Irish head coach insists the majority of fans support decision to sign Paddy Jackson

LONDON IRISH head coach Les Kiss believes “there is more support than not” among fans for the club's decision to sign Paddy Jackson.

The 27-year-old was acquitted of rape along with then-team-mate following a nine-week trial in which a series of lewd text message exchanges littered with derogatory comments towards women came to light.

Despite being acquitted, Jackson saw his Ireland and Ulster contracts terminated in the wake of the trial.

After a year with Perpignan in France, he joined London Irish earlier this year in a move that sparked anger among women’s rights organisations and saw sponsors Diageo sever ties with the club.

But despite the outcry, Kiss refused to be drawn into a debate around any off-the-field matters concerning Jackson and insisted the club had the support of the majority of the Exiles’ fanbase.

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“The bottom line is that if you look at everything, I think there is more support than not. That’s my view,” Kiss told Irish Times.

“First and foremost, Paddy is a good rugby player and it’s an opportunity for him to further his career. He saw that as a good opportunity.

“People will have their opinions on the back story and the past, but we believe what we are about and we believe we are doing the right thing.”

The former Ulster head coach added: “Obviously I know Paddy and he’s a quality footballer so that is what we’re focused on.

“Ultimately that is what our conversation was about and where we will stay with it.

“The bottom line is it is a rugby club that is looking for good players and we have signed Paddy.

“I understand that this becomes a story but ultimately we want to make sure we focus on the right things.”

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