Paddy Jackson will return to Ireland to play quicker than anticipated.
His Perpignan team have been drawn to face Connacht in Pool 3 of the Challenge Cup.
Jackson was sacked by Ulster Rugby after a review by the club and the IRFU into text messages and social media revealed during a high profile rape trial. Both he and clubmate Stuart Olding were acquitted of all charges.
— Usap (@usap_officiel) June 19, 2018
Jackson will also come up against Premiership side Sale in Pool 3. Both Jackson and Olding had initially been believed to have been close to signing with Sale in the Premiership, but a reported inquiry by the Sale Sharks’ main sponsors – AJ Bell – appeared to put an abrupt end to the deal.
Jackson has since signed a two-year contract with Perpignan, who are returning to the French Top 14 for the first time in four years. Olding also moved to France, to play for second tier side Brive.
Le premier entraînement de l’@usap_officiel ! Paddy Jackson, Cyril Deligny et Johannes van Heerden sont présents. Les jeunes Paul Marty et Mattéo Rodor aussi. Retour de Lucas Bachelier, absence de Yohan Vivalda. @RugbyramaFR #USAP #Top14 pic.twitter.com/yhEGuS7e9D
— Émilien Vicens (@VicensEmilien) June 19, 2018
Jackson’s return to Ireland with Perpignan comes days after a high profile IRFU official refused to rule out he and Olding playing for their country again.
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Neither player would be eligible to play for Ireland due to the fact that they play outside the country, as per current IRFU rules, but a return beyond that isn’t out of the question.
“I don’t think anything is ever forever. Who knows what could happen or what will happen?”, Nucifora said while speaking with the media ahead of Ireland’s third Test against the Wallabies.
“The players now have found new contracts so that is a positive for them personally, individually, and everyone just has to move on from that.
“For the immediate future, there’s no thought that they will be considered. They are playing overseas at the moment. If you are playing overseas, you are not considered.”