Sack­ings send right sig­nal to other play­ers

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT -

THE sack­ing of Ire­land and Ul­ster Rugby play­ers Paddy Jack­son and Stu­art Old­ing may have seemed a fore­gone con­clu­sion.

Once Bank of Ire­land, Ul­ster Rugby’s lead­ing spon­sor, is­sued a state­ment ex­press­ing con­cern ‘re­gard­ing se­ri­ous be­hav­iour and con­duct is­sues’ at the club, the writ­ing was al­ways on the wall.

Be that as it may, their dis­missal should send a pow­er­ful mes­sage to all those who would em­u­late their ex­am­ple. Both play­ers were unan­i­mously ac­quit­ted of rape. How­ever, their no­to­ri­ous What­sApp mes­sages were both sor­did and indica­tive of some­thing deeply dis­turb­ing at the heart of Ir­ish sport. To have let the mat­ter pass with­out sanc­tion would have sent a ter­ri­ble sig­nal.

Their con­duct on the night in ques­tion, and in their sub­se­quent What­sApp con­ver­sa­tions, were an of­fence against de­cency. But the sad truth is that the be­hav­iour of the two men is not unique.

Sev­eral years ago, it was re­ported two Ir­ish rugby play­ers en­gaged in sim­i­lar ac­tiv­i­ties with a wo­man in a Dublin ho­tel. Such high-pro­file cases get the head­lines, but we can­not avoid the fact that such coarse con­duct and locker room vul­gar­ity is now a com­mon fea­ture of Ir­ish life.

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