Northern Ireland news

Paddy Jackson: 'It's been difficult'

Paddy Jackon outside court trial the rape trial. Picture by Pacemaker
John Fallon

Former rugby international Paddy Jackson has said he is trying to enjoy life again in the south of France.

The former Ireland and Ulster player moved to Perpignan after his contract was revoked in April following "degrading and offensive" WhatsApp messages. In March he was acquitted, alongside Ulster team-mate Stuart Olding, of raping a woman in Belfast in June 2016.

Speaking about the aftermath of the case for the first time, Jackson said it has been "difficult" to try and rebuild his career.

“It’s been difficult but it’s something that me and my family have just had to get used to. You only can really understand if you have been in my shoes or my family’s shoes. It’s something you get used to. You stick together and you help each other.

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“I have come out somewhere where people know about it but they are all respectful and understanding about it. They have helped me in training to get into the lifestyle here. I have just been focusing on playing here,” said the 26-year old.

And he added: "It’s just all been about rugby and getting back enjoying life. That is all I have been thinking about really."

Former Ireland rugby international Paddy Jackson

In a statement in April, Jackson apologised.

“I am ashamed that a young woman who was a visitor to my home left in a distressed state. This was never my intention and I will always regret the events of that evening. I am also truly sorry for engaging in a WhatsApp group chat which was degrading and offensive and I apologise unreservedly for this."

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