Ireland rugby manager refuses to comment on controversial attendance of Irish players at rape trial

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has refused to comment on the presence on Wednesday of his team captain Rory Best and another of his players, Iain Henderson, at the Belfast rape trial of two fellow Ulster and Ireland players.

The decision by both men to attend the trial has prompted some criticism on social media.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are presently on trial facing rape charges. Both are professional rugby players with Ulster and have represented Ireland.

Two other men are also facing charges in relation to the incident.

All men deny the charges with Jackson and Olding contending that the sex was consensual.

Best and Henderson will start for Ireland against France in the Six Nations in Paris this weekend but were on a day off when they attended Belfast Crown Court.

The alleged victim took the witness stand on the same day.

Asked if the pair had been granted permission to attend, Schmidt said: “I’ve got no comment on any of that.”

When asked for his opinion on their attendance, he replied: “We’re not in a position to comment on any of that. It’s a legal matter.”

- Brendan O'Brien and Digital Desk

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