Willie John McBride speaks about Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding in controversial radio interview
“We’ve all done silly things but it just didn’t get exposure then.”
Former Ulster, Ireland and Lions rugby player Willie McBride joined Sean O'Rourke on Wednesday morning's RTÉ Radio 1 programme to speak about the recent Belfast trial.
Speaking to O'Rourke, McBride, who also currently holds the position of President of the Ulster Rugby Supporters Club, was quick to defend the Ulster players involved in the trial, Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, describing the Whatsapp messages used as evidence in the trial as "silly" and calling for the pair to return to playing rugby.
"These young men have made mistakes, and I would imagine they certainly won’t be making those mistakes again. During the trial they behaved very well and carried themselves very well – I hope people will see that these are not bad young men," McBride said.
McBride went on to say that he believes that the four defendants are simply “ young men that got involved in silly things”.
McBride spoke at length about how he thinks alcohol had a huge part to play in how the events at the centre of the trial in June 2016 played out.
"Alcohol is one of the biggest problems in all of these things" Willie John McBride tells #TodaySOR
— Today with Claire Byrne (@TodaywithClaire) April 11, 2018
He commented on the evidence Stuart Olding gave to the court about how much he drank on the night, stating that he finds it "difficult to believe".
"He’s some drinker – I find that amount of drink difficult to believe. I think if any man took that much he wouldn’t be fit to pick up," McBride said.
McBride went on to say that he believes Jackson and Olding should be allowed to play again after they were acquitted of all charges.
"The guys have virtually been tried on television and in the press every day walking in and out of court. It’s totally unfair to say they should be gotten rid of, out of Ulster and Ireland," he said.
"As far as I'm concerned, these young men have learned their lesson. All have issued their regrets, sadness and made apologies about the affair. It’s time they get back to doing what they do best, playing rugby."
During the interview with O'Rourke, the Ballymena-native admitted to his own past faults, referencing past Lions Tour controversies.
"We’ve all done silly things in our time, it wasn’t taken so seriously in those days as it is now, and it certainly didn’t get exposure in those days the way it does today."
The MBE finished the interview by saying he believes the WhatsApp messages sent by Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Craig Gilroy brought the game into disrepute.
"There’s no question about it," he said.