Ulster Rugby sponsor breaks silence on Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding trial

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

Ulster Rugby sponsor Bank of Ireland (BOI) has told the province that it is "highly concerned" with the behavioural and conduct issues that arose during the recent rape trial which saw player's Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding acquitted March 29.

While Jackson and Olding were cleared of rape after an eight-week trial, both players remain relieved of playing duties while a joint Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby internal review into the matter is carried out.

Fellow Ulster player Craig Gilroy has subsequently been relieved of playing duties and is also subject to an internal review due to a WhatsApp message he sent which was used in court.

Jackson, 26, has played 25 times for Ireland, Olding, 25, has been capped four times, while Gilroy has played 10 times for Ireland and all are first-team members of the Ulster rugby PRO14 side.

Olding stated he was "sorry for the hurt that was caused to the complainant" after the trial, Jackson released a statement April 6th in which he stated he was "ashamed that a young woman who was a visitor to my home left in a distressed state" and that he regretted the events of that evening.

After being stood down from playing last week, Gilroy apologised for the message he sent stating he was "deeply sorry for the hurt my comment has caused."

With that review still ongoing, BOI, who has been a sponsor with the team for over 20 years and signed a multi-million deal with stadium sponsor Kingspan in 2015 has come out stating the importance that their "sponsorship activity aligns with and supports our core values, and reflects positively" on the institution.

"As a sponsor of Ulster Rugby, Bank of Ireland is highly concerned regarding the serious behaviour and conduct issues which have emerged as a result of the recent high profile trial," the bank said in a statement issued to ESPN.

"The Bank has formally conveyed these concerns to the CEO of Ulster Rugby. It is of paramount importance to Bank of Ireland that our sponsorship activity aligns with and supports our core values, and reflects positively on Bank of Ireland through association.

We understand that an internal review is underway. We expect this review to be robust, to fully address the issues raised, and that decisions will be taken -- and policies and protocols be put in place -- that fully address the issues that have arisen."