News that former Ulster player Stuart Olding is to resume his rugby career in France has been broadly welcomed on social media.
The 25-year-old has signed a two-year deal with French second tier side Brive, who were relegated from the Top 14 this season.
Olding’s contract was terminated by Ulster last month, after he and ex-teammate Paddy Jackson were acquitted of rape charges in March following a nine-week trail.
Much like the high-profile rape trial, the French club’s decision to sign Olding has divided public opinion, with some questioning the move.
However, the majority of people on social media appeared to be pleased that Olding can continue his professional career, with plenty of tweets wishing the former Ulster player success at his new club:
• “Well done Brive. Stuart Olding is a great signing. He is very missed by Ulster Rugby but it is fabulous that Brive have recognised his great talent and given him an opportunity to play again. Merci”
• “Very encouraging to see an overwhelmingly positive response on Twitter to Stuart Olding’s move to France.”
• “Great news today. Well done Stuart. Ulster’s loss is Brive’s gain.”
• “Happy that he has the opportunity to resume his career and earn a living.”
• “Best of luck to Stuart Olding at Brive. Hope he can rebuild his career in France”.
While Jackson and Olding, 25, were found not guilty of rape, major sponsors of Ulster Rugby voiced concern over their conduct. A review conducted by club and country focused on sexually explicit WhatsApp conversations involving the players and their friends about the sexual encounter at the centre of the trial. The messages, which referred to women in derogatory terms, were presented as evidence during the trial.
Paddy Jackson is still without a club.
In a statement on its official website, Brive said it was pleased to announce the signature of Olding for the next two seasons.
In their description of his rugby credentials and playing style, the club stated: “[He] started his career as a professional player at Ulster in 2011. Selected with the U-20s from Ireland to play in a World Cup and a 6 Nations Tournament, he then has four selections with the XV of Trefoil.
“[A] versatile player, he evolves in the center and can also cover the back post. He will continue his career in Brive for the next two seasons.”
Brive finished bottom of the Top 14 league last season and will play in the second tier, Rugby Pro D2, next year.
Olding will link up with ex-Ulster forward Jeremy Davidson (pictured above), who was recently named as the new Brive coach.