Tuesday 23 July 2019

'I think that Paddy Jackson is getting too much punishment'- Ireland legend Fergus Slattery disagrees with Diageo decision

Paddy Jackson: The fly-half signed for London Irish for next season. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Paddy Jackson: The fly-half signed for London Irish for next season. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

John Morley

Former Irish rugby captain Fergus Slattery believes Diageo's decision to terminate their contract with London Irish is excessive considering Paddy Jackson was found not guilty in court.

Jackson and Stuart Olding were found not guilty of rape in a high-profile trial in Belfast last year and Slattery believes the players should be allowed to continue their playing careers.

Jackson (27) moved to France after his contract was cancelled by the IRFU in the fallout of his rape acquittal and joined London Irish after Perpignan's relegation from the Top 14.

Slattery finds the backlash against Jackson a year later 'bizarre' and thought that it was 'daft' that Jackson got more negative attention than the other two men involved.

"Because the guys were deemed innocent, I was very, very disappointed to find out that Diageo were pulling out from London Irish," said Slattery on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One.

"I still do think that Paddy Jackson is getting too much punishment."

Former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan, joined the debate saying that "they have paid their price but you'd just wonder now was the price bigger than they thought".

'If he leaves London Irish will any club touch him, his career could be in tatters here," said O'Sullivan.

Chairman for the 'Stop Out-Of-Control Drinking Campaign', which is funded by Diageo, Fergus Finlay disagreed with Slattery saying that the signing of Jackson was "not consistent with Diageo's values".

Finlay went on to say that Irish Rugby was "a vehicle for drinking" and that Jackson was still facing consequences for his actions because of his WhatsApp messages rather than the trial itself.

Finlay was disgusted by the "incredible attitude towards women" in the "really laddish" WhatsApp messages and the "horrendous relationship between the events of that night and alcohol".

"I have never heard of the amounts of alcohol that were consumed by all parties that were involved that night," said Finlay.

"I think a decision to disassociate [Diageo] with anything to do with the events of that night is a correct decision."

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