Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding's contracts revoked

Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson

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Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson were cleared of rape charges after a nine-week trial in Belfast

Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been sacked.

The players were both cleared of rape last month after a nine-week trial.

In a joint statement, the IRFU and Ulster said they “acknowledge our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: Respect, inclusivity and integrity”.

While the pair were cleared of rape, there had been controversy over messages exchanged in a WhatsApp group.

The IRFU/Ulster Rugby statement added they have agreed “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”.

They also said that Ulster and Ireland winger Craig Gilroy has been sanctioned over a text message he sent to Stuart Olding.

He will be unavailable for selection by Ulster until 26 April 2018.

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Dozens of people staged a protest outside the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Friday night

Mr Jackson and Mr Olding were cleared of raping the same woman in Mr Jackson’s house in the early hours of 28 June 2016.

Two other men, Blane McIlroy, who was accused of exposure, and Rory Harrison, who was charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information, were also found not guilty.

‘Sadness and regret’

In a statement to the Press Association Mr Jackson said he was “deeply disappointed” about the outcome of the IRFU and Ulster Rugby’s internal review, which was announced after the rape trial ended.

“However, I recognise that my behaviour has fallen far short of the values expected of me as an international player, a role model for the game of rugby and as a son and a brother. I am truly sorry,” he said.

“Since I was a young boy it was my ambition to play for Ulster and Ireland and I am extremely proud, privileged and honoured to have done so.

“It is therefore with great sadness and regret, but with many cherished memories, that I leave that behind.”

On Friday evening, dozens of people staged a protest outside the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast ahead of Ulster Rugby’s match against Ospreys.

The rally was organised by Belfast Feminist Network.

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