An official grouping of Ulster Rugby supporters has hit out at “uninformed” social media commentary regarding the Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding rape trial, and said it wants to see the players back in Ulster jerseys as soon as possible.
The Ulster Rugby Supporters’ Club (URSC) – the team’s official independent supporters’ club founded in 2004 – said it had no part in an advert from ‘concerned fans’ placed in last Friday’s Belfast Telegraph calling for the players never to represent Ulster and Ireland again.
Chairman Jonathan Bill said: “The URSC acknowledges that recent events involving Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson and Craig Gilroy have been difficult and traumatic for all involved. The URSC respects both the judicial outcome and the IRFU review process which it regards as a matter solely for the players and their employer.
“The URSC has noted the considerable body of social media commentary over the past week, much of which it regards as uninformed, and as a result unhelpful. The URSC has also noted in particular, the advertisement placed in the Belfast Telegraph on Friday (April 6) by 139 people purporting to be “concerned fans” and the disproportionate attention it has received from other media outlets.
“The URSC can confirm that it had no part in this advertisement and doubts that any of the 139 who contributed financially to this advertisement are amongst its membership. The URSC can further confirm that it has received no calls from its membership for the aforementioned players to be banned from playing for Ulster, on the contrary, the vast majority of members have made it clear they wish to see their early reinstatement to playing duties.
“Indeed many have made it clear that if this is not the case it will strongly influence their decision on season ticket renewal or their future Kingspan attendance. URSC is concerned that if such is the case, the numbers involved could impact adversely on support for the team and income for Ulster Rugby through the ticket sales.”
Mr Bill urged fans to get behind the team and SUFTUM at the final two Kingspan games of the season.”
Meanwhile, almost 5,000 people have signed an online petition to have Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding – found not guilty of raping a 19-year-old student in June 2016 – reinstated for Ulster Rugby.