Monday 16 September 2019

Rugby players are given behavioural classes


Stock photo: Sportsfile
Stock photo: Sportsfile

Dean Grey

Ulster Rugby have introduced behavioural classes for academy and professional players.

The classes will include discussions on sexual consent delivered by charity Women's Aid.

The move comes in the wake of a rape trial earlier this year involving two former Ireland and Ulster rugby stars.

A jury found Ulster and Ireland players Paddy Jackson (26) and Stuart Olding (25) unanimously not guilty of rape in March.

Both players have moved to France to continue their careers after having their Ulster contracts terminated.

Despite their acquittal, issues surrounding alcohol use and a series of explicit WhatsApp communications provoked widespread debate.

The IRFU pledged "to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes" to uphold their core values of "respect, inclusivity and integrity".

In response, the IRFU introduced classes on sexual consent, alcohol and social media for all professional players in Ireland earlier this year. The classes delivered by English consultancy firm Gleeson Mills are interactive.


Speaking to BBC News NI, Ulster Rugby's director of operations Bryn Cunningham said that Ulster Rugby's reputation had been damaged by the rape trial.

"Irrespective of what happened we knew that there would be reputational damage from it," he said.

"We were prepared for that and we have a job still to do to repair some of that."

The chief executive of Women's Aid Northern Ireland, Jan Melia, confirmed the charity was working with Ulster Rugby to develop classes for players.

"It's a bespoke programme which builds on what we do in communities anyway."

Irish Independent

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