Pressure builds on Ireland and Ulster to axe rugby rape trial players as 60,000 sign petition
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Pressure builds on Ireland and Ulster to axe rugby rape trial players as 60,000 sign petition

PRESSURE is mounting on the IRFU and Ulster Rugby to axe Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding following their rape trial acquittal last week.

Jackson, 26, and Olding, 24, were cleared of rape on Wednesday after a 42-day trial at Belfast Crown Court.

A petition urging the IRFU to publish its review into the conduct of the men has now reached over 60,000 signatures.

The petition urges rugby chiefs to take into account the pair's "worrying" Whatsapp messages, what they said in court, their public image and the sport's code of ethics.

It reads: "We do not want other countries to think that this behaviour and these attitudes are representative of Irish people.

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"The Irish rugby team are also heroes of many young people.

"We do not want them to feel that what has been revealed throughout the trial was or ever will be acceptable or celebrated.

"We do not want young rugby players and fans to think this is OK behaviour to emulate."

Both Jackson, who has 25 Ireland caps, and Olding, who has four, remain under contract with Ulster until 2019.

The petition states that rugby clubs and national teams "regularly drop players" for inappropriate behaviour away from the pitch.

The IRFU has said that it will review the matter in line with existing protocol for contracted players.

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"We wish to acknowledge that this has undoubtedly been a difficult and extremely traumatic time for all involved," the IRFU said in a statement.

"A Review Committee, made up of senior representatives of the IRFU and Ulster Rugby, has been appointed and will conclude its review as soon as practicable.

"The players will continue to be relieved of all duties while the Review Committee is in process and determining its findings."