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Ulster Rugby supporters' club calls for Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Craig Gilroy to receive `early reinstatement'

 Craig Gilroy (left), Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding

ULSTER Rugby season ticket holders are threatening not to renew their passes or attend future games if Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Craig Gilroy do not receive "early reinstatement".

The trio are subject to a joint IRFU/Ulster Rugby review into their conduct after misogynistic WhatsApp messages emerged during a rape trial.

Jackson and Olding were both found not guilty of raping a student at a party in Jackson's house in June 2016.

However, revelations that emerged during the nine-week trial of their account of the night about which the allegations were made and a general discussion of women have led thousands of people to take to the streets in demonstrations across Ireland.

There are plans for a mass protest at the Kingspan Stadium for Ulster's first home game since the conclusion of the trial this Friday.

The Ulster Rugby Supporters' Club (URSC) released a statement today stressing its support for the players.

Chairman Jonathan Bill said the "recent events" involving the three players "have been difficult and traumatic for all involved" and the supporters club "respects both the judicial outcome and the IRFU review process which it regards as a matter solely for the players and their employer".

He branded social media commentary following the trial mostly "uninformed, and as a result unhelpful" and suggested that the 139 concerned fans who placed an advert in the Belfast Telegraph demanding Jackson and Olding never play for Ulster again received "disproportionate attention" in the media.

"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," he said.

He further claimed that the "vast majority of members" have made it clear they wanted to see the players reinstated.

"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."

A petition calling for their reinstatement has topped 7,000 signatures.

Read moreSenator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin apologises over rugby rape trial tweet

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