Sackings send right signal to other players
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.