Rugby

Willie John McBride Believes Jackson And Olding Should Be Allowed Play Again

Willie John McBride Believes Jackson And Olding Should Be Allowed Play Again

Former Ireland and Lions rugby player Willie John McBride believes that Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding should be allowed play for Ulster again.

Last month, Jackson and Olding were both found not guilty of raping a woman in 2016. Following the verdict, the IRFU and Ulster Rugby announced they would carry out a joint review of the trial.

Speaking on Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke, McBride - who is President of the Official Supporters Club Of Ulster Rugby - said that recent statement from the supporters club urging Ulster to reinstate Jackson and Olding to playing duties has his backing.

"This has been a very sad affair," said the 63-cap Ireland international.

"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."

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McBride was asked by Sean O'Rourke regarding his view of what the complainant has had to endure.

The complainant has had to endure it as well - she was part of it. She obviously didn't get the exposure on television and press that the guys have had but it's sad for her as well.

These young people - all of them - are going to regret this for the rest of their lives.

McBride understands why the IRFU and Ulster are reviewing the situation, "but as far as I'm concerned, these young men have learned their lesson."

"All of them have issued their regrets and sadness about the affair and their apologies. I think it's about time that they got back to doing what they do best and that is playing rugby."

The 77-year-old has not spoken to either Jackson or Olding, adding that he does know personally know either player.

He also believes that threats from some supporters to not renew their season tickets unless both players are reinstated are not helpful in this situation.

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McBride does think 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.

McBride agreed that the language used in WhatsApp messages sent by Jackson and Olding regarding the incident was 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 speaking on Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke below.

PJ Browne
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