'It's time they got back to doing what they do best' - Willie John McBride calls for Jackson and Olding's return
Ireland legend Willie John McBride has called on Ulster to reinstate Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, saying that 'it is time they were back playing rugby again'.
The Ireland internationals were acquitted of rape last month, with the out-half also found not guilty of sexual assault.
Questions have now turned to the duo's future, with Ulster and the IRFU currently conducting a joint-review that will decide whether they line out for the province next season.
Last week, a crowd-funded ad was taken out in the Belfast Telegraph calling for Jackson and Olding to never play for Ireland and Ulster again, while a counter advert was today taken out in the same paper by people backing the duo.
McBride, who is now president of the Ulster Rugby Supporters Club, appeared on Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1 to discuss the situation, and gave his backing to the rugby stars.
"Of course it is," McBride said when asked if he supported the view that Jackson and Olding should be reinstated by Ulster.
"The guys have come through a very traumatic couple of months. They have been tried every day walking out of the court. And they have been found not guilty and now you have some people saying 'get rid of them', which is totally unfair because these guys are not guilty.
"It is time they were back playing rugby again."
McBride added that the players should be back 'doing what they do best'.
"As far as I'm concerned, these young men, I think, have learned their lesson," he said.
"All of them have issued their regrets and their sadness about the affair and I think it is time that they got back to doing what they do best, and that is playing rugby."
The not guilty verdict generated a huge reaction from people, with some marching against the decision. McBride says that he found the backlash against Jackson and Olding unfair.
"I find it very sad that even since the not guilty verdict came out, they are virtually being tried over again in the media and by people outside rugby," he added.
"I find that that is very sad. And from some of the things I've read you would think that they were found guilty."
Sean O'Rourke asked McBride about Olding's evidence during the trial where he admitted to drinking a huge amount of alcohol, which the Ireland legend laughed off as an exaggeration.
"He is some drinker," McBride laughed.
"I don't honestly believe that. If any man drank that he wouldn't be fit to pick up. I find that difficult to believe it."
"This is a really sad affair. I followed it all on television and in the press. There's the old saying 'when the alcohol goes in, common sense goes out' and it is very sad that they have all got caught up in this," McBride added.