Paddy Jackson & Stuart Olding: Sale Sharks not signing former Ireland and Ulster players

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding
Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are both out of contract

Sale Sharks will not be signing former Ireland and Ulster players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, a club statement has confirmed.

Media speculation suggested Sale had offered deals to Jackson, 26, and Olding, 25.

Their contracts were revoked by Ulster and the Irish Rugby Football Union.

Both were cleared of rape after a nine-week trial but there was controversy over social media and text messages they had exchanged.

"Sale Sharks can confirm there is no substance to the rumours currently circulating in relation to the signing of the two international rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding," the club statement said.

"Our search continues for top-class players to bolster the squad for next season."

The BBC has learned Sale's link with the pair caused unrest and disagreement amongst season-ticket holders.

One prominent supporter told the BBC signing the players would have been a potential "PR disaster" for the club.

The IRFU/Ulster Rugby statement last month after their dismissal said: "In arriving at this decision, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby acknowledge our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: respect, inclusivity and integrity.

"It has been agreed, as part of this commitment, to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes within the game in Ireland to ensure the importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practised at every level of the game."

French Top 14 side Clermont Auvergne denied their interest in signing Jackson last month.

Jackson was a regular at Test level for Ireland, making 25 appearances, while Olding played four times for his country.

Both were also key members of the Ulster squad, playing in the Pro14 and European Champions Cup competitions for the province.