London (AFP) – Former Ireland fly-half Paddy Jackson and centre Stuart Olding have been offered the chance to resurrect their rugby careers by English Premiership side Sale, according to media reports.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph, following a report in the Belfast Telegraph, said Sale were offering the two players contracts but on significantly lower wages than they previously enjoyed.
Jackson, 26, and 25-year-old Olding were in March unanimously acquitted of raping the same woman in June 2016. Jackson was also unanimously acquitted of sexual assault.
But Jackson, who has 25 Test caps, and Olding had their contracts with Ulster and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) terminated after an internal review following their acquittal, effectively bringing their Test careers to an end.
The high-profile trial at Belfast Crown Court brought to light a number of sexually explicit and offensive WhatsApp exchanges that sparked a wave of protest on social media and on the streets and concern from sponsors of the Ulster team.
Jackson is believed to have agreed a deal worth less than £200,000 ($273,000) a year, which is considerably lower than his contract with the IRFU, which was reportedly worth over £250,000.
Olding has not completed negotiations but is likely to agree to a similar pay cut if he signs for Sale.
Sale, under director of rugby Steve Diamond, have a reputation for taking on controversial players.
Diamond signed Australia’s James O’Connor from French outfit Toulon for the 2017/18 season shortly after he had been fined for a drugs bust outside a Paris nightclub.
Diamond has stood by England wing Denny Solomona after the New Zealand-born player was banned for four weeks over homophobic abuse.