IRFU confirm Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding's contracts have been revoked

Protestors demonstrate outside the home of Ulster rugby Kingspan Stadium

Protestors demonstrate outside the home of Ulster rugby Kingspan Stadium

Jackson and his Ulster team-mate Stuart Olding were unanimously acquitted at Belfast Crown Court of raping the same woman at a party at Jackson's south Belfast home in June 2016. Senior officials from the Irish Rugby Football Union are expected to complete their review early next week.

The review following the Belfast rape trial concluded last Wednesday and the players were informed then of the decision. The report says that Olding is "on the brink" of signing with Rob Baxter's side but that the club has distanced themselves from reports that they are also interested in signing Jackson.

Their positions remained under scrutiny as support became polarised.

Meanwhile, writing for RugbyPass, former Ulster and Ireland flanker Neil Best, has criticised the effective sacking of the pair.

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The pair, like their team mate Craig Gilroy, who was implemented only because of a private message he had sent, should have had a sanction imposed.

When contacted by the Herald, a spokesman for Ulster Rugby said they would not be discussing the matter until the review is concluded.

26 December 2014; Ulster's Paddy Jackson, left, and Stuart Olding at the final whistle.

The representative body for professional rugby players in Ireland - Rugby Players Ireland - said: "Rugby Players Ireland acknowledges today's statements by the IRFU, Ulster Rugby, Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding".

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Pressure was also exerted by key sponsors.

After the IRFU released their statement the out half said, 'I am deeply disappointed about the outcome of the IRFU and Ulster Rugby's internal review.

Bank of Ireland, who had previously told the Irish News it "will not be making any comment on this matter at this time", came out yesterday to state its disquiet over the revelations which emerged during the rape trial. It is therefore with great sadness and regret but with many cherished memories that I leave that behind.

"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".

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"Rather than suspending or sacking them, maybe Ulster should seek to further educate them on the standards and attitudes it expects and review current programmes to minimise the prospect of one of their system's products ever remotely becoming involved in anything like this again", he said in a column for Rugby Pass.

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