Rugby players to get classes on 'sexual health and relationships'

Rugby players are to be given classes on sexual health and relationships in the wake of the rugby rape trial
Staff Reporter

RUGBY players are to be given "sexual health and relationships" classes by their professional body.

Rugby Players Ireland (RPI) will introduce the issues as part of their wellbeing workshops.

The classes, which aim to promote "healthy behavioural attitudes," are to be set up in the wake of the high-profile rugby rape trial.

Following the nine-week case, Ireland and Ulster players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were acquitted of raping a student at a house party in 2016. Jackson was also found not guilty of sexual assault.

However, there was a public backlash over a series of sexually explicit WhatsApp messages, involving the players and their friends, that emerged during the case.

Following an internal review into their conduct, employers Ulster Rugby and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) announced earlier this month they had ended the players' contracts with immediate effect.

The IRFU/Ulster Rugby also said that Ulster and Ireland winger Craig Gilroy has been sanctioned over a message he sent to Stuart Olding.

RPI said their Player Wellbeing Programme which focuses on "off-field development" was being developed "in light of recent events".

The organisation said this was "to ensure that our values of integrity, inclusivity and respect, integral to the game of rugby, are understood by all our players and reflected in their behaviour on and off the pitch".

Dr Ella McCabe, a senior clinical psychologist, is facilitating the workshops which aim to educate players on "healthy behavioural attitudes".

In a statement, RPI said: "The content of this programme is reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that it continues to evolve in line with current trends.

"We have invested more resources in this area, including broadening the curriculum delivered to players through individual consultations, group workshops and the provision of educational material so that all players receive the support they need in their daily lives, while also preparing them for their transition from the game."

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