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'Jackson getting too much punishment'

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Former Ireland captain claims 'Paddy Jackson is getting too much punishment'

Former Ireland and Lions player Fergus Slattery believes Paddy Jackson has suffered far too much in the fall-out from last year’s rape trial in Beflast. 

Jackson and former Ulster and Ireland team-mate Stuart Olding were acquitted in a Belfast court in March 2018. However, a month later, their rugby contracts were torn up by the IRFU forcing both of them to go to France to continue their playing careers. 

Now Jackson is back in the headlines this week after the decision of brewing giant Diageo to end the near 30-year sponsorship that Guinness have had with London Irish, the club that signed Jackson in May as it prepares for its return next season to the English Premiership.

Diageo took exception to Irish’s Jackson signing, claiming it was “not consistent with our values”. However, ex-Ireland skipper Slattery believes the saga surrounding Jackson has continued for far too long. 

“If London Irish did make the decision to hold onto Paddy Jackson on the basis they were going to lose Diageo I would be surprised,” he told the Today With Sean O’Rourke programme on RTE Radio in Ireland. “I don’t know the full detail of that. But I still do think that Paddy Jackson is getting too much punishment and as a consequence, London Irish have lost their sponsorship.  

“Because the guys were deemed to be innocent I was very, very disappointed to hear that Diageo were pulling out from London Irish. I just don’t understand it… I have to throw the IRFU into the pot along with Diageo. I just don’t understand why that was done by anybody. Whether it was Diageo or IRFU, I just don’t understand it.”

Former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan admitted he understood the reasons why the positions of Jackson and Olding had become untenable in Ulster due to the publication of negative WhatsApp messages. However, he believes Jackson’s career could now be in tatters as the controversy has refused to die despite more than a year passing since the termination of his contract by the IRFU.

“I would reiterate that they weren’t found guilty of any crime but what was found was those text messages were reprehensible and I think their positions were untenable in Irish rugby and Ulster,” he said. “They have paid a big price for it and you just wonder now is the price bigger than they thought.

“London Irish felt they could take him on board but I think there is still a visceral reaction to what has gone on. It is just a year, but I suppose he would ask himself this morning at what point does he get away from this stigma around him and if he leaves London Irish will any other club touch him? His career could be in tatters here. 

“There is a balancing act here. There is an argument that it is too soon after the event, but again you have to accept at what stage what is the proportionality around his dreadful error and nobody seems to know the answer to that.”

 

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Former Ireland captain claims 'Paddy Jackson is getting too much punishment'