Ulster Rugby fans call for Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding to be reinstated in full-page newspaper ad
“We do not expect an answer to this letter, but we do expect them to play.”
A group of over 100 Ulster Rugby supporters have taken out a full-page ad in the Belfast Telegraph calling for Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding to be reinstated to the Ulster and Irish rugby teams in the wake of their acquittal of all charges following a rape trial in Belfast last month.
The advert, which the Belfast Telegraph says was funded by over 100 supporters of Ulster Rugby, describes “the extent of the social media backlash aimed at incriminating men unanimously acquitted of any crime” as “reprehensible”, with the supporters saying that they “are fed up with this cyber persecution”.
The advert in full reads as follows:
“To the leadership of the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby.
“What is reprehensible is the extent of the social media backlash aimed at incriminating men unanimously acquitted of any crime. We are fed up with this cyber persecution.
“As Ulster and Irish rugby fans, we want these innocent men reinstated and rightly allowed to resume their roles for both club and country. The IRFU should take note of the silent majority and not bow to the court of social media.
“We do not expect an answer to this letter, but we do expect them to play.
“Yours, Real fans standing up for the Ulster men.”
The publishing of the advert in the Belfast Telegraph comes in response to an advert published in the same paper at the weekend urging Ulster Rugby and the IRFU to never allow Jackson and Olding to play for Ulster or Ireland again in the future.
The advertisement, paid for by a crowdfunding campaign that attracted contributions from over 130 people and authored by “concerned fans”, described the social media exchanges involving Jackson and Olding as “reprehensible” and included a demand that “neither of these men represents Ulster or Ireland now or at any point in the future”.
A crowd-funded ad has been placed in the Belfast Telegraph today calling for Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding to never play for Ulster or Ireland again https://t.co/TjFSBC541D pic.twitter.com/AqrsbhUFTI
— Siobhán Fenton (@SiobhanFenton) April 6, 2018
A petition on change.org to get Jackson and Olding back playing for Ulster Rugby, meanwhile, has been signed by over 14,000 people in the space of four days.
Last week, Paddy Jackson issued a statement to say that public criticism of his behaviour was “fully justified” and that he was “ashamed that a young woman who was a visitor in my house left in a distressed state”.
Jackson and Olding have been stood down for duty for Ulster and Ireland since charges were brought against them in July 2017.
Both players are the subject of a review by Ulster Rugby and the IRFU and will continue to be relieved of all duties while the review committee is in process and determining its findings.
In a statement to JOE earlier this week, a spokesperson for Ulster Rugby said: "The IRFU and Ulster Rugby have advised that a review process in relation to this matter is underway and it would be inappropriate to comment on any matter pertaining to that process until it is completed."