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Dublin: 18 °C Monday 13 July, 2020

'I don't think anything is ever forever, who knows what could happen?'

IRFU boss David Nucifora hasn’t ruled out a return to Ireland for Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Murray Kinsella reports from Sydney

IRFU PERFORMANCE DIRECTOR David Nucifora has indicated that there may be a possibility of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding returning to play for Ireland in the future.

Jackson and Olding had their contracts with the IRFU and Ulster revoked in April following a review in the wake of their acquittal on rape charges.

Jackson recently signed for French Top 14 club Perpignan, while Olding has joined Pro D2 club Brive ahead of next season.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding celebrate after the game Olding and Jackson have both signed for French clubs. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Speaking in Sydney yesterday, having joined Ireland on their tour of Australia, Nucifora didn’t rule out the prospect of the former Ulster players making a return in the future when he was asked if they are out of the picture for Ireland and the IRFU for the rest of their careers.

“It’s not one for me to say but I don’t think we can make a comment on that,” said Nucifora.

“But I don’t think anything is ever forever, who knows what could happen or what will happen?

“For the immediate future, there’s no thought that they will be considered. They are playing overseas so at the moment if you’re playing overseas, you’re not considered.”

Nucifora underlined the IRFU’s hope that the union will never face another similar situation to the one involving Jackson and Olding, while also stating that player education in the area of social responsibility will continue.

Rugby Players Ireland has been developing its player development programme, jointly funded by the IRFU, in recent times and the association indicated to The42 in April that the programme was being updated to include modules on consent.

“There’s always been ongoing education and I think that has been reviewed, how we can make that better,” said Nucifora on Monday in Sydney.

“That is still being worked on, looking at how we can continue to better the education of our players across all areas of social responsibility. That is being done, has been done and will continue to be worked on.

“The players now have found new contracts so that’s a positive for them personally, individually, and everyone just has to move on from that. It was a tough year in regards to that for the players, for Ulster, and for rugby in general.

“Hopefully, we don’t go through that ever again.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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