Ireland and Ulster teammates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding found not guilty of rape

Paddy Jackson, pictured, and his Ireland and Ulster teammate Stuart Olding were cleared of rape. Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

Ireland internationals Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been cleared of rape following an eight-week trial in a Belfast court.

The Ulster teammates, who have not played since they were charged in July last year, had both denied raping the same woman in Jackson's house in the early hours of June 28, 2016.

Jackson and Olding's co-defendants, Blane McIlroy -- accused of exposure -- and Rory Harrison -- charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information -- were also found not guilty by the jury.

The jury of eight men and three women, reduced from 12 when one juror took ill, deliberated over their verdict for three hours and 45 minutes.

"I would like to thank the judge and the jury for giving me a fair trial. My parents for being here every day as well as my brother and sisters," Jackson said outside of the court.

"Out of respect for my employer I have nothing further to comment."

Jackson, 26, has played 25 times for Ireland and started two Tests on Joe Schmidt's side's 2017 summer tour. Olding, 25, has been capped four times, the last of which came against South Africa in June 2016.

Both players remain "relieved of all duties" while a joint Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Ulster Rugby internal review into the matter is carried out.

"The IRFU and Ulster Rugby note the verdict handed down today at the Belfast Crown Court in relation to the case brought against Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding. We wish to acknowledge that this has undoubtedly been a difficult and extremely traumatic time for all involved," a statement released in the wake of the verdict read.

"To respect the judicial proceedings the IRFU and Ulster Rugby postponed any internal review of the matter with the players, until the proceedings concluded.

"IRFU and Ulster Rugby officials will review the matter, in line with existing procedures for all contracted players. A Review Committee, made up of senior representatives of the IRFU and Ulster Rugby, has been appointed and will conclude its review as soon as practicable. The players will continue to be relieved of all duties while the Review Committee is in process and determining its findings."