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Exclusive - RFU CEO gives England Rugby's stance on Sale's potential signing of Jackson and Olding

RFU CEO Steve Brown has given England Rugby’s position on Sale Shark’s potential signing of former Ulster players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

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Sale Sharks are reportedly set to make a double swoop for Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding according to reports in the English media.

The Telegraph say that cut-price deals for the duo have been agreed, with their signings to be announced once the Premiership season finishes.

The Sharks would be picking up an experienced pair: 26-year-old flyhalf Jackson has made 25 appearances for Ireland since 2013, while 25-year-old Olding has made four.

Despite the potential for a backlash Sale are set to plough on regardless.

Speaking to RugbyPass on the matter, the RFU CEO said the matter was ‘down to individual’ clubs.

“I think it’s down to individual clubs,” Brown told RugbyPass’s Nick Heath. “I don’t know the specifics of any kind of deals that are there or any negotiations but I think it is down to clubs themselves to make that call.

“I think it is a moral position that they need to take and it’s a difficult call when someone is found not guilty of something but there are other reasons why a union has taken a position on something. As I’ve said before we take a very strong view to any kind of behaviour that would not be considered appropriate.

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“It’s a case by case thing,” said Brown. “I think the club has to make their own call. My view is that you’ve got to take it as it is and I think the Irish union did what they did and I respect that decision.”

Both players had their contracts terminated after the IRFU and Ulster Rugby conducted an internal review following Jackson and Olding’s acquittal over rape charges.

The review focused on a series of explicit group text conversations involving the players and their friends, which was revealed during the trial.

Protests took place outside Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium following the trial and a number of the club’s sponsors expressed their concerns over the players conduct prior to their sacking.

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The CEO said that he was wary of the RFU having a position on the matter as it could be seen to be dictatorial to clubs.

“That could be quite dictatorial and prescriptive of us. I’d rather it was more natural… a natural view – that the club took – in considering whether or not a player is appropriately qualified to play for them and the right representation. I think we have to leave it that way. I think we have to be careful that we don’t dictate that.”

“We do set the tone by the way we respond to people’s behaviour or if they do say the wrong thing and you’ve seen that play out in the public domain,” concluded Brown.

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