Hard partying Ulster rugby players cause rift in dressing room
THE Christian, family-orientated reputation that many Ulster Rugby players have credited with keeping them in Northern Ireland has been damaged by the party lifestyle of players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding that formed part of the nine week rape trial.
While the pair, along with friends Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison, were found not guilty by a unanimous jury verdict on Wednesday, they still face an internal disciplinary hearing to see if they will be allowed to return to the rugby pitch.
The WhatsApp messages read to the court, in which the men used derogatory and dehumanising language to describe the women in their company, is expected to form part of that hearing, to establish if they breached the terms of their employment contract.
Sources say recent events have caused a rift in the changing room at Kingspan where many of the players remain devout Christians and are said to be horrified at the behaviour of the younger team members.
Andrew Trimble was the first Ulster player to publicly talk about his faith when he first broke into the team, but others were quick to follow.
Former captain Johann Muller said he based his decision on whether to relocate to Northern Ireland on a religious experience.
In and interview in 2011 he said; "Me and my wife made a decision that when I hit 30, we wanted to move overseas. I met David Humphreys and he flew to South Africa to try and sell Ulster to me. We were 70 per cent sure, but we then went to church a week later.
"There was an evangelist over from Manchester and out of nowhere he said, ‘sir, can you stand up’ pointing at me. I did as I was told, and I was kind of shocked, but then he said ‘God has opened a door for you and he wants you to take it’. The guy told me he saw me over here and was using me for his works. It was a wonderful confirmation and we didn’t need to think twice".
Ruan Pienaar, a scrumhalf from Bloemfontein in South Africa, also said he turned down lucrative offers from places such as France and England to remain in Northern Ireland.
"I have always believed with my Christianity that there’s so much more to life than rugby. I said to my wife before we came here that we had to be strong in our faith and I believe that God gave me a door to walk through here at Ulster.
“Being here gives me an enormous sense of purpose, I am not just here for rugby, I’m here to touch lives", he said.
While there was no official comment from Ulster Rugby last night on the length of time it will take for the disciplinary process into Jackson and Olding's future playing careers, sources have said it will be a matter of weeks rather than months.
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- Alleged victim's name was posted on comments section of an online news site
- Relatives clasped each others' hands and openly wept as verdicts delivered
- Victims' support group calls for review into how trials are conducted
- Allison Morris: I have two daughters and would not encourage them to go through retraumatising rape trial (Premium)
- One of the most expensive rape trials in UK judicial history
- 'I Believe Her' rallies planned across Ireland
- Ireland rugby captain Rory Best's decision to attend court on day two of the rape trial provoked a storm of criticism
- About the rugby rape trial judge Patricia Smyth
- PSNI says woman at centre of trial 'upset and disappointed' at verdict
- Paddy Jackson's lawyers say status as famous sportsman 'drove the decision to prosecute'
- Paddy Jackson's lawyers call for crackdown on 'vile' social media commentary during criminal proceedings
- Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding 'will continue to be relieved of all duties' as review takes place
- Stuart Olding faces major battle to return to pinnacle of his sport
- Paddy Jackson had unwavering support from his parents
- Stuart Olding: I deeply regret events of that evening... I am sorry for the hurt caused to the complainant
- Blane McIlroy admitted being prone to exaggeration
- Rory Harrison had been working in Australia before he flew home to stand trial
- Video: Paddy Jackson thanks judge and jury for fair trial
- Public Prosecution Service: 'Ultimately right' rugby rape case was brought to trial