Ulster Rugby players to undergo Women’s Aid NI classes

A rally in April calling for Ulster Rugby to address the behaviour of players.'The demonstration, entitled 'Stamp out Misogyny at Ulster Rugby', had been organised by Belfast Feminist Network.'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
A rally in April calling for Ulster Rugby to address the behaviour of players.'The demonstration, entitled 'Stamp out Misogyny at Ulster Rugby', had been organised by Belfast Feminist Network.'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

Ulster Rugby players are to undergo “in-depth and intensive” behavioural classes — including discussions on sexual consent — by trainers from Women’s Aid NI, it has been reported.

Around 65 professional and academy players will take part, BBC News NI reports.

The broadcaster reports that the partnership between Ulster Rugby and Women’s Aid NI developed in the wake of the trial earlier this year involving two former Ulster players — Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding — who were acquitted of all charges.

Ulster Rugby’s Director of Operations Bryn Cunningham told the BBC: “The player group will go through probably five to six fairly intensive three to four hour sessions on one of our down days. That will cover a variety of different areas.

“A lot of it will be around social life and social engagement - whenever players go out, how they conduct themselves and how they can protect themselves as well.”

He continued: “It could be situations with the opposite sex, it could be situations where it’s with other individuals who want to be antagonistic or want to start a fight.

“A lot of material within the courses will be about behaviours but it will get into much wider topics as well.

“This is about educating them in how to make good choices.

“It would be remiss of any professional sport not to fully engage with as much support as they possibly could from outside sources around making correct decisions.”

Referring to the rape trial, Mr Cunningham said: “Irrespective of what happened we knew that there would be reputational damage from it. We were prepared for that and we have a job still to do to repair some of that.”