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Survey Shows Bulk Of Ulster Supporters Against Sacking Of Jackson And Olding

Survey Shows Bulk Of Ulster Supporters Against Sacking Of Jackson And Olding
By Gavin Cooney Updated
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The Ulster Rugby Supporters Club (URSC) have published the results of a survey of their members, gauging the reaction to the decision of Ulster and Irish Rugby to revoke the contracts of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding with immediate effect.

Jackson and Olding were found not guilty of all charges levelled against them in a verdict reached at Belfast Crown Court last month, but were relieved of their rugby duties following an internal review by Ulster Rugby and the IRFU. Both bodies confirmed the news in a statement last Saturday morning, in which they stated "in arriving at this decision, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby acknowledge our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: Respect, Inclusivity, and Integrity".

Days prior to the decision by Ulster and Ireland, an ad paid for by Ulster Rugby supporters ran in the Belfast Telegraph calling for the players to be reinstated. This was published in response to an ad appearing in the same paper the week before which called for the papers to be sacked.

Amid this back-and-forth, the official Ulster Rugby Supporters Club were asked by their members to respond to the situation, and did so by sending a survey to their members.

In total, 390 members responded, which accounts for 42% of their total membership.

176 members (45% of respondents) said that they are "disappointed but not surprised by the outcome", and asked for the "URSC to write to IRFU/Ulster expressing same". Many of those who chose this option used "appalled" instead of "disappointed".

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80 members (21%) responded that they are "appalled at the outcome" and said they should hold a protest at the Glasgow game on Saturday.

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52 people (13%) were similarly "appalled" at the outcome, and said they intend to boycott this weekend's game.

A further 64 people (16%) called on the Supporters Club to move on and support the club this weekend: "move on, we are a Supporters’ Club and we support the club not individual players".

Finally, just 4% of those who responded (17 people) said that they are "pleased they are gone, they have brought disgrace to Ulster Rugby".

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The URSC confirmed in response to these results that they will write to Ulster and the IRFU to express supporters' opposition to the decision. They will not, however, organise a protest this weekend.

The Committee also noted that whilst a third of members were appalled and wanted some form of protest, it was the Committee’s view that such action, whilst cathartic and no doubt headline grabbing, would have little impact on the hierarchy of either the IRFU or Ulster Rugby. Protest would also likely adversely affect the remaining playing squad for the last crucial matches of the season and would be disrespectful to players like Tommy Bowe making their final home appearance.

The URSC will therefore be writing to IRFU/Ulster Rugby next week to express members’ considerable dissatisfaction and disgust at the recent turn of events.

The Club called on all members to support Ulster against Glasgow this weekend, and acknowledged that Jackson and Olding "have apologised fulsomely for their behaviour which they have admitted was below acceptable standards"; thanked them for their on-field service, and wished them well in their rugby futures.

[URSC]

See Also: Ulster Defend Decision To Ban News Journalists From Press Conference

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