London Irish: an immorality tale?

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fleabane
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London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by fleabane » Fri May 10, 2019 3:02 pm

The rugby team London Irish announced this week that Paddy Jackson will join their squad ahead of a return to the English premiership next season. Jackson, 27, who has previously played for Ulster and represented Ireland, was once famous solely for his talents as a fly-half on the pitch – but now is infamous for his role in a gruelling, much-publicised rape trial last year.

The 42-week trial in Belfast of Jackson and his three compadres was followed in acute detail. Evidence presented included the complainant’s :censored: knickers, medical opinions on vaginal tears and WhatsApp exchanges between the defendants. Jackson was found not guilty of rape and not guilty of assault – his then teammate Stuart Olding was found not guilty of rape. Their friend, Blane McIlroy was found not guilty of exposure and another friend, Rory Harrison, was found not guilty of concealing evidence and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

When all four were acquitted of the charges, protests erupted in cities all over Ireland, with huge numbers gathering in solidarity with the complainant, and many, many more online proclaiming #IBelieveHer. This was a provocative challenge to the decision of the jury, or a simple act of solidarity with a young woman whose underwear and personal life had been gawked at by onlookers far and wide – depending on your viewpoint.

Jackson later had his contract terminated by Ulster and Ireland – as did Olding – who judged that conduct displayed in text messages exchanged by the pair, and revealed in the trial, fell below the standards expected. But this only happened after significant, sustained and noisy pressure from fans, and the subsequent impact on sponsors.

The full conversation of those WhatsApp texts couldn’t be retrieved by police, so we have only snippets:

- “What the :censored: was going on. Last night was hilarious.”

- “Why are we such legends.”

- “There was a bit of spit roasting going on last night fellas.”

- “It was like a merry-go-round at a carnival.”

- “We are all top shaggers.”

- “Love Belfast sluts.”

I found the term “Belfast :censored:” particularly repellent as it betrays the lazy entitlement of a particular band of wealthier suburban visitors to my city – the type any Belfast girl knows when they start going to clubs and pubs. Like the trial itself, it felt very personal, and after the verdicts I helped to organise a crowdfunding effort to place an advert in the Belfast Telegraph calling for Jackson to be sacked by Ulster, because of the toxic masculinity displayed in the messages. We reached our target in under 36 hours: the advert was placed to much fanfare and the inevitable, but at times overwhelming, social media abuse that occurs when sluts like us venture an opinion.

Having ultimately been sacked by Ulster, Jackson secured a contract at a French rugby team – somewhat away from the attention of the Irish and British public and media. London Irish’s decision to hire the player a little more than a year later is not just another galling reminder of the priorities of many sporting organisations; it is also a nasty hint of the backlash that faces women who assert their rights or attempt to participate in public conversations.

As feminism and wider rights agendas gain greater traction, so too does resistance – and like most extremist groups these days, it socialises and recruits new members online. More and more ordinary men and boys, even some women, are being drawn into anti-feminist and anti-equality positions. These include the shaming of women who come forward to report sexual assault and the peddling of lies about the scale of malicious rape allegations. This is helped enormously by the wilful refusal of social media companies to ban those spreading anti-women hatred, or take a stand against misogyny online.

In the Jackson case, supposed “true fans” of rugby have mobilised online, originally campaigning for his reinstatement to the Ulster team, furiously writing their own petitions, crowdfunding their own adverts, issuing a mixture of death threats and general abuse at those of us who think his behaviour warranted his removal in the first place. London Irish coaches Declan Kidney and Les Kiss have now handed these trolls a victory, though some of their own fans are vowing to boycott the team.

But the question needs to be asked: if being part of a conversation that appears to describe a woman’s body as a merry-go-round doesn’t get you banned from professional sports, then what progress have we made? What have the feminists and those seeking equality gained to prompt such a vicious backlash? And if it’s just a backlash of toxic masculinity and misogyny in response to no measurable progress for women, then we are, in fact, going backwards.


This article by a Belfast journalist appeared in today’s Guardian.

For me it raises legitimate questions about discredited sportspeople (yes, I know he was controversially found not guilty), and whether employing them is good for the image of the club and the sport. It has happened in football, and over drug abuse in rugby.

Just how far should their “punishment” go, and should the role of sportspeople as role models for young people mean that the Paddy Jackson’s of this world should disappear from public sight?

If Tigers signed him, how would you feel then?
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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by jgriffin » Fri May 10, 2019 3:07 pm

fleabane I would be appalled if Tigers even thought about it. I did follow the trial in the Irish news, and was horrified by what appeared to be misogynistic behaviour of a nasty group. If it was my daughter he'd be playing for London Eunuchs :smt013
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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by fortysix » Fri May 10, 2019 3:22 pm

Good grief, forget it, its past news and he has served his penalty.

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by tigertone » Fri May 10, 2019 3:37 pm

Firstly, there is no such thing as being "controversially" not guilty. Not guilty means innocent.
Secondly, have you read Matt Hampson's autobiography? Some interesting passages in there for you to ponder on.
Thirdly, while not all young men are saints not are all young women.

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by Smudge » Fri May 10, 2019 3:49 pm

For me the term "yes, I know he was controversially found not guilty" says it all.
I was not in court to listen to the evidence or hear council for and against the defendants and I submit that anyone
who did not have the benefit of said proceedings is in no position to pronounce on them.
The jury, who heard every word, point and argument, found him and them not guilty of the charges brought.
To then say they should be vilified and punished, from that position, is ludicrous and unfair.
Had he and they been found guilty then I would totally agree to such vilification.
The law, in all it's might and wisdom, defends the innocent as well as punishes the guilty.
There is a term used in Scotland when there is doubt, it is "not proven". This was not the case in their trial, so "not guilty"
must be treated as a fact, defined in law.
Having been found not guilty, by a jury of his peers after a long trial, he is entitled to follow his profession without let or hinderance. To do anything other would be totally unjust.
If, as some people claim, they should now be subject to a morals charge, then they may as well ban every team that has been on a tour.
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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by CitizenSmiff » Fri May 10, 2019 4:18 pm

I agree with you OP, but the Folau incident taught me that you're only setting yourself up for disappointment if you want to change anybody's mind about the state of society around here. I'd recommend the unofficial forum instead.

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by jgriffin » Fri May 10, 2019 5:21 pm

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by johnthegriff » Fri May 10, 2019 5:26 pm

Obviously " not guilty" means not guilty and as such these unpleasant young men should be allowed to continue their careers, but not at Leicester. I have daughters and grand daughters and whilst accepting the legality of Jackson playing in the Premiership I personally agree with my near namesake J. Griffin.

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by JP14 » Fri May 10, 2019 5:29 pm

I’m very disappointed that the Exiles chose to sign him, yes he is innocent in the eyes of the law but to sign someone who referred to Irish girls as “merry-go-rounds” sets a bad precedent for LI and of the few fans they have left they will have lost even more.

For me this isn’t a case of let rugby do the talking, and it’s certainly a long road to redemption.
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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by BFG » Fri May 10, 2019 5:45 pm

tigertone wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 3:37 pm
Firstly, there is no such thing as being "controversially" not guilty. Not guilty means innocent.
Secondly, have you read Matt Hampson's autobiography? Some interesting passages in there for you to ponder on.
Thirdly, while not all young men are saints not are all young women.
Actually you're wrong, not guilty means there wasn't strong enough evidence to be found guilty of the charge.

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by Scott1 » Fri May 10, 2019 6:09 pm

Do you know I read the other day that the Crusaders were thinking of changing their name! I despair at times I really do!

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by Dangerous4 » Fri May 10, 2019 7:51 pm

He should be banned from rugby.

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by tigertone » Fri May 10, 2019 8:47 pm

BIG, it is a fundamental concept in English law that everyone is innocent unless proved guilty. It is therefore wrong to describe a not guilty verdict as "controversial ". Not guilty means exactly what it says.

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by tigertone » Fri May 10, 2019 9:02 pm

BFG, it is a fundamental concept in English law that everyone is innocent unless proved guilty. It is therefore wrong to describe a not guilty verdict as "controversial ". Not guilty means exactly what it says.

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Re: London Irish: an immorality tale?

Post by BFG » Fri May 10, 2019 9:32 pm

tigertone wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 8:47 pm
BFG, it is a fundamental concept in English law that everyone is innocent unless proved guilty. It is therefore wrong to describe a not guilty verdict as "controversial ". Not guilty means exactly what it says.
I said nothing about a not guilty verdict being controversial.
They were found not guilty of the charges in a court of law and I accept that.
Innocent isn't stated at the verdict, it's guilty or not guilty.
However I do take note that professionals thought it appropriate that charges should be brought.
For me personally this is about something that is supposed to separate the humans from the wild animals.
I'm disappointed that he is coming to play in the English Premiership, as I suspect some sponsors and potential sponsors may be.

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