Irish rugby players have contracts revoked after rape trial

DUBLIN (AP) Two Ireland internationals had their contracts revoked by their clubs and the country’s rugby federation on Saturday, weeks after being found not guilty of raping a woman in 2016.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were cleared by a jury on a unanimous verdict last month following a nine-week trial in Belfast.

The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby, the players’ team in Ireland, launched a joint review of the case and said the contracts of Jackson and Olding have been terminated with immediate effect.

In a statement, the IRFU and Ulster said they had a ”responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game – respect, inclusivity and integrity.”

Jackson and Olding denied raping the same woman at a party at Jackson’s house in south Belfast following a night out in June 2016. Jackson was also found not guilty of sexual assault.

”I am deeply disappointed about the outcome of the IRFU and Ulster Rugby’s internal review,” Jackson said in a statement.

”However, I recognize that my behavior 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. My focus in the months and years ahead will be on rebuilding the trust placed in me by people throughout Ulster and Ireland.”

Olding also issued a statement expressing his regret at the decision to revoke his deal.

The IRFU and Ulster Rugby review had focused on a series of sexually explicit WhatsApp conversations involving the players and their friends about the sexual encounter at the center of the rape trial.