Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding will not play rugby for Ulster again after the province and the IRFU terminated their contracts with “immediate effect”.
The Ireland international stars were last month cleared of raping a woman in Mr Jackson’s house on June 28, 2016, following a nine-week trial.
But they were heavily criticised for social media and text messages exchanged between them.
This included a ‘Stamp Out Misogyny’ protest organised by the Belfast Feminist Network, and attended by hundreds of people, outside the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast ahead of Ulster’s match against Ospreys.
Photo Thread: “Stamp Out Misogyny” protest at Kingspan Stadium. pic.twitter.com/GM7aSihOvY
— Brendan Harkin | Breandán Ó hEarcáin (@brendanjharkin) April 13, 2018
The IRFU/Ulster Rugby statement said: “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.
“It has been agreed, as part of this commitment, to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes, within the game in Ireland, to ensure the importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practised at every level of the game.”
Ulster and Ireland teammate Craig Gilroy has been sanctioned over a text message he sent to Mr Olding. He will be unavailable for selection by Ulster until April 26, 2018.
Responding to the decision of Ulster and the IRFU, Mr Jackson said he was “deeply disappointed”.
He added: “However, I recognise that my behaviour 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.
“Since I was a young boy it was my ambition to play for Ulster and Ireland and I am extremely proud, privileged and honoured to have done so.
“It is therefore with great sadness and regret, but with many cherished memories, that I leave that behind.”
Mr Olding said in in a statement: “It is with regret that I have been informed that the IRFU have decided to revoke my contract.
“I very much wished to continue to have the opportunity to represent them [Ulster and Ireland].
“Regrettably, influences outside of my contractual arrangement have made it impossible for that to happen.
“I said outside court that the Stuart Olding that you read about in the trial is not the real Stuart Olding.
“The treatment that I have received since my acquittal, both fair and unfair, has made me even more determined to prove myself.
“With the support of my family and friends I shall seek new challenges elsewhere. I bear no-one any ill will.”
You may also be interested in: