Legendary Irish Rugby International Calls For Jackson & Olding To Be Reinstated

“A sad affair.”

Former Ireland, Ulster and Lions forward Willie John McBride believes it’s time Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were reinstated and back playing rugby.

The Ulster and Ireland duo were found not guilty of rape at Belfast Crown Court last month, but are yet to return to rugby. The IRFU and Ulster are currently carrying out a review, with fans currently split in their opinion on the whole matter.

Some feel they should not play rugby in Ireland again because of what they said in some of their WhatsApp messages that were used as evidence in court. Others meanwhile, feel it’s time the pair were allowed resume their careers, having been found not guilty by unanimous decision.

Speaking on Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, McBride, who is President of the Official Supporters Club Of Ulster Rugby, says it’s been a “very sad affair.”

“This has been a very sad affair,” McBride said.

“I followed it all on television and obviously in the press and it’s all a very sad affair of a bunch of young people who – the old saying ‘when alcohol comes in, common sense goes out’ – it’s very sad that they’ve all got caught up in this.”

“They’ve all come through, or at least the guys have come through a traumatic couple of months where they’ve been virtually tried on TV every day walking in and out of the court. They have been tried in the press every day with photos in the paper and all sorts of writing.”

“They’ve been found not guilty. Now we have some people saying, ‘Get rid of them, get them out of the way’ – it’s totally unfair. These people were found not guilty. It’s time they were back playing rugby again.”

McBride does however feel that both players should be severely reprimanded.

“There’s no doubt about it has got tremendous public exposure and I suppose they are held as role models. I think that they should be severely reprimanded. These young men are never going to be allowed forget what they’ve done and this affair that has gone on for a couple of months.”

“I find it very sad that since the verdicts came out, they are virtually being tried over again in the media and indeed people outside rugby football. I find that very sad.”

“Some of the things I’ve read, you’d nearly think they’ve been trying to make them guilty.”

He also agrees the content of the WhatsApp messages are not acceptable.

“These are young men who have got involved in a lot of silly things. As far as WhatsApp, I don’t understand these things, they’re long after my youth.

“I think it’s very sad and very silly that they got involved in these things. It’s obviously very wrong and very silly.”

You can listen to McBride’s full interview below.