FRENCH CLUB CLERMONT Auvergne have moved to refute rumours linking them with a move for Ireland out-half Paddy Jackson after his departure from Ulster.
The IRFU and Ulster announced on Saturday that both Jackson and Stuart Olding have had their contracts with the province revoked following a review into their conduct in the wake of recent court proceedings.
Both Jackson and Olding were unanimously acquitted of rape charges at Belfast Crown Court but had their contracts revoked by the IRFU in the aftermath, with the union saying it arrived at the decision by acknowledging its ‘responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: Respect, Inclusivity and Integrity.’
Jackson was heavily linked with a move to Top 14 outfit Clermont over the weekend, but they have become the second club in the space of as many days to distance themselves from either of the players, after Exeter Chiefs denied an interest in signing Olding.
In a statement on the club’s official website, Clermont head coach Franck Azéma says the reports were ‘false information’ and they have made no contact with Jackson, and there is ‘no desire on our part to engage his services.’
“The Irish out-half will not come,” Azéma stated, before adding that the club have sufficient resources in the half-back department, naming Camille Lopez, Patricio Fernandez, Ice Toeava and Dorian Lavernhe.
“With the constraints imposed by the salary cap, it is not possible to strengthen the position of out-half where the current solutions are numerous,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ulster Rugby CEO Shane Logan claims pressure from commercial partners did not force the province to sever ties with the two players, adding that he does not believe either will play for the club or Ireland again.
“They have done a lot for Ulster and Irish rugby,” he said. “They have made a very serious mistake. I hope that they will learn from that and I hope they fulfil their potential going forward.
Logan, who said his position was not under threat, added: “No sponsor, including Bank of Ireland, drove the decision.
“We have taken on board everybody’s views right across society, right across our supporter group, our sponsor group, our players, clubs, volunteers, we are part of society.
“But at the end of the day, having looked at all those things, the decision was based on alignment with what it is we stand for in particular the value of respect.
“The players themselves admitted in their own statements that they were way short of what was expected of them.”
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