Rugby player Paddy Jackson was excluded from the London Irish squad for a friendly pre-
season against the Munster team, allegedly for reasons of team organisation, according to
manager Declan Kidney. However, many suspect the real reason is because of planned
protests against the arrival of Paddy Jackson, who was acquitted of rape in the high-profile
Ulster Rugby case last year. It was revealed just two days before the match was scheduled to
happen that Jackson would not be travelling.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with protests or anything like that. As a matter of fact, the
players all knew about the squad that would be travelling long before any of that came to light.
It’s a pure rugby decision.” said Kidney, pointing to the other players not included in the match.
London Irish has faced some controversy since signing on Jackson, with Guinness dropping
their sponsorship of the team.
Despite Jackson’s acquittal in last year’s case, many are skeptical of the rugby player’s
intentions that night. WhatsApp messages exchanged between players after the night in
question have also highlighted examples of sexism on Jackson’s part. “Pumped a girl with
Jacko on Monday. Roasted her. Then another on Tuesday night,” texted one of Jackson’s
teammates, in response to a group chat question, “Any sl*ts get f*cked?” Witnesses confirmed
that the victim was in tears after the incident, with medical confirmation of bleeding and an
internal tear. The high-profile case included much scrutiny and criticism of both parties.
Following the case, Jackson was dropped from the Ulster Rugby team and by several sponsors.
He eventually emigrated to play in France, and has now been signed on to play with London
Irish by former Irish and Munster Head Coach, Kidney.
Some believe that Jackson’s prolonged “punishment” is unjust, with him losing his job and
sponsorship following the rape case. An article in the Irish Examiner has been a point of
controversy, arguing that Jackson has been made a “scapegoat for centuries of male
mistreatment”. Protest organiser Linda Hayden, founder of Action Against Sexual Violence
Ireland, defended the protest action, pointing out that Jackson is held up as a sports hero and
an icon for young people.
“Lots of young people attend these games, they hero worship these guys…The text messages
in the court case showed that they left a girl bleeding and crying and spoke about her like a
piece of meat.” she said. She stated that she respected the court’s decision to acquit Jackson,
although pointed out that Ireland has one of the lowest rates for conviction and reporting of
The protest went ahead as planned despite Jackson’s absence from the team and UCC’s
FemSoc society held their own demonstrations in front of the Honan Chapel on Friday evening.
Speaking to the Express about the protest was Chair, Kelly McEveney. She said that “the
protest centered on the point that the individual in question is not a role model for any young
person or adult in Ireland due to the manner in which he spoke about women. Holding this
individual up as a role model tells people that such behaviour is acceptable and also rewarded.”