THE ULSTER Rugby Supporters’ Club (URSC) has warned that the vast majority of members would stop going to games if key players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are not reinstated.
Both Jackson and Olding have not played for club or country since they were charged by the PSNI in July 2017.
Despite being acquitted of all charges at Belfast Crown Court last month, both players remain suspended by Ulster Rugby and the IRFU pending review by both organisations.
A statement from Jonathan Bill, chairman of the official independent supporters club of Ulster Rugby, said: “The URSC acknowledges that recent events involving Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson and Craig Gilroy have been difficult and traumatic for all involved.
“The URSC respects both the judicial outcome and the IRFU review process which it regards as a matter solely for the players and their employer.
The statement continued: “The vast majority of members have made it clear they wish to see their (Jackson and Olding) early reinstatement to playing duties.
“Indeed many have made it clear that if this is not the case it will strongly influence their decision on season ticket renewal or their future Kingspan attendance. URSC is concerned that if such is the case, the numbers involved could impact adversely on support for the team and income for Ulster Rugby through the ticket sales.”
Fellow Ulster player Craig Gilroy was not a defendant in the trial but is also subject to the review process due to an offensive message about women he sent to Olding formed part of evidence at the trial.
Yesterday, a petition was launched to urge both organisations to put both players back into their squads.
The petition reached almost 10,000 signatures before it was removed from Change.org.
Elsewhere, RTE’s Claire Byrne Live conducted a poll on last night’s show which concluded that 55% of respondent said they didn’t want to see Jackson and Olding back playing for Ireland, 26% said they did, while 19% said they didn’t know.