Ulster players Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson have been sacked by the club.

The pair had recently stood trial for rape, regarding an incident that took place in 2016.

Despite being cleared by the jury, sanctions were expected to be handed down from both the club and the Irish Rugby Football Union. Whilst the duo had been expected to leave the club, it was revealed by BBC News on Saturday that the players had been sacked with immediate effect.

Messages from a WhatsApp group are understood to be pivotal in the decision to revoke their contracts.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images Sport

Speaking after the trial, Jackson said:

I recognise that my behaviour has fallen far short of the values expected of me as an international player, a role model for the game of rugby and as a son and a brother. I am truly sorry,

Since I was a young boy it was my ambition to play for Ulster and Ireland and I am extremely proud, privileged and honoured to have done so.

Large scale protests had been expected to take place outside the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast during Ulster’s match against Ospreys.