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Binge drinking an Irish issue

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'I do think there is an issue' - former Ireland coach concerned with Irish players' binge drinking

Former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan has suggested Irish rugby has an issue with binge drinking among its professional players.

Details of excessive drinking by former Ireland and Ulster pair Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding emerged at their high profile rape court case in Belfast last year, a controversy that has now had a sequel as brewing giant Diageo has pulled the plug on the near 30-year sponsorship by Guinness of London Irish, the club that last month signed Jackson from Perpignan in France. 

Recently, there have also been drunken events involving Leinster. It was alleged one player urinated on a stranger in a pub during the PRO14 title celebrations while a former player was accused of assaulting a current academy player in the run-up to a 10-year European Cup anniversary dinner.   

O’Sullivan now believes there is a situation with binge drinking in the game in Ireland that need to be tackled to ensure rugby stops generating the wrong kind of headlines. “There is (binge drinking) to an extent,” he told Today With Sean O’Rourke, an RTE Radio programme in Ireland.

“There have been other instances recently that have been highlighted around and certainly alcohol was involved. I think it is more a cultural problem across the country.

“The difference between say rugby players and maybe the average person their age is their profile, they get seen if they do anything wrong and there is nothing wrong with that. That is part of what they carry with them in their position, but I do think there is an issue. 

“One of the big changes is I suppose the fact these drinking situations are often binges because a lot of these players do not drink on a regular basis because it doesn’t work for their career if you are a professional athlete.

“When the opportunity arises it often is way more excessive than it needs to be and that often happens. You see this in other sports at the end of the season when everyone is heading into their holidays – that is a problem around it and there isn’t sensible drinking when it happens. 

“We all know per se there is nothing wrong with drinking, but that is the issue.”

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'I do think there is an issue' - former Ireland coach concerned with Irish players' binge drinking