Ulster Rugby maintains ban on news reporters at press conference

Ulster Rugby is maintaining a ban on news reporters attending pre-match press conferences following the sacking of rape acquitted stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Today's event, which is traditionally open to all media, is again set to be confined to rugby writers as the club moves to limit questions about the fallout from the players' trial and subsequent dismissal.

Only sports reporters were allowed to attend the press conference at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast last Tuesday, when Ulster and Ireland hooker Rob Herring read a pre-prepared statement saying players were saddened by the duo's exit.

Rob Herring

That ban looks like continuing today, when the weekend PRO14 match against Munster will be previewed, with the Press Association having been told its news reporters will again be excluded.

A PA news reporter was turned away from last week's event as well.

News media have been barred because apparently too many questions about Jackson and Olding's high-profile trial were asked at the first press conference in the aftermath of their acquittal last month.

Local rugby writers were angered last week when Ulster Rugby issued a statement saying the decision to restrict the media event to sports journalists was made "following consultation with regular press conference attendees".

The rugby reporters insisted they had not requested any ban on news counterparts attending.

It is understood they had voiced concern with club officials about how the previous press conference had unfolded, but they insist they only asked for a more structured format to ensure rugby matters were definitely covered.

Despite Friday's statement from the rugby writers, Ulster Rugby has maintained its stance to exclude news media outlets today.

Jackson and Olding were sacked 10 days ago following an internal review into their conduct by their employers Ulster Rugby and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).

While Jackson, 26, and Olding, 25, were found not guilty of rape last month, other aspects of their behaviour had been heavily criticised, with major sponsors of Ulster Rugby having voiced concern.

The IRFU and Ulster Rugby review had focused on a series of sexually explicit WhatsApp conversations involving the players and their friends about the sexual encounter at the centre of the rape trial.

The messages, which referred to women in derogatory terms, were presented as evidence during the marathon nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Jackson and Olding had been accused of raping the same woman at a party at Jackson's home in June 2016.

Last month, a jury of eight men and three women found the players unanimously not guilty of rape after deliberating for three hours and 45 minutes.

All jurors also acquitted Jackson of sexual assault.

Two other men, Blane McIlroy, 26, and Rory Harrison, 25, were also unanimously acquitted of lesser charges connected to the case.

- PA


Related Articles

Rugby players fail to recoup legal costs after rape trial acquittal

Man convicted for naming ‘rape’ complainant on social media

Court hears Stuart Olding offered no evidence of financial hardship in legal costs bid

Stuart Olding says 'ineptitude' by NI's Prosecution Service cost him chance to play rugby in Ireland

More in this Section

Gardaí investigating after digger used to steal ATM from Monaghan bank

Gardaí appeal to mother of baby found on Dublin beach

17 properties worth €1m or more sold weekly in Ireland

ESB restore power to most homes after Storm Deirdre


Lifestyle

Lindsay Woods: At a time of year when the pace is frenzied and days are full of school plays and deadlines, the chance to break from routine is a welcome one

On the red carpet: Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger and Cheryl

Raise a glass to Christmas festivities

The best festive desserts to try out this Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner