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Diageo, the legendary company behind Guinness, has officially cancelled its sponsorship of London Irish Rugby Club over their choice to sign former Ulster and Ireland out-half Paddy Jackson.

We all remember the rugby star after the infamous and harrowing Belfast rape trial of last year, where he was acquitted. Three other men who had been charged in relation to the incident were also acquitted.

Stuart Olding and Jackson both had their contacts cancelled in the wake of the trial, after their Whatsapp messages showed vile, misogynistic language about women involved in allegedly consensual sex acts with them.

Seeing as London Irish markets themselves as a family club, we're not surprised fans were angry when a man who discusses 'spit roasts' and says phrases like, "Any sluts get f*cked?" was signed on to play for them.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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In a statement to The Irish Times, Diageo said: “We have met with the club to express our concerns. Their recent decision is not consistent with our values and so we have ended our sponsorship.”

Diageo had recently said that it had "serious concerns" regarding Jackson's signing, but failed to reference the sponsorship deal, which has been in place for 27 years.

Another London Irish sponsor, Cash Converters, terminated its relationship with the club. On Twitter, the company said; “As a company, we are committed to the highest possible standards when it comes to our investments in any sponsorships and collaborations.

"As a result of a detailed and thorough review of our support for London Irish, we have decided to discontinue our association with the club.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Last night, London Irish said its management is “understandably disappointed that Diageo has chosen not to renew its sponsorship agreement with the club, and particularly the manner in which the company has chosen to do so”.

“The club has always respected the right for everyone to have an opinion, and their right to express that opinion,” the statement said.

“London Irish has been open and honest with all of its sponsors, including offering to meet Diageo’s senior management in Dublin in May, 2019. This offer was not taken up.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The management also said the club would move on “without the support of Diageo, who have chosen to stand down after a nearly 30-year association with the club”.

“It is regretful that this relationship has ended in the manner that it has,” the statement said. Declan Kidney, head coach at London Irish and former Ireland coach, signed Paddy Jackson and defended the decision last year;

“We are fully aware that there was a court case that Paddy was involved in but that has  been  dealt  with. What  has gone on in the past had gone on in the past and we are just trying to move on to the future."

Feature image: Instagram/@glenmoremanor

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London Irish have just confirmed that Paddy Jackson has signed for their team ahead of the upcoming 2019/20 rugby season.

Jackson was acquitted of rape in the now-infamous Belfast case last year alongside Ulster team-mate Stuart Olding, and joined Perpignan last summer.

Both players had their national-team contracts revoked by the Irish Rugby Football Union after the social media storm surrounding offensive, misogynistic texts messages sent into a group chat.

Olding and Jackson were accused of embodying the middle-class toxic masculinity of the country through their sexually-degrading comments about women.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Catherine Wharton  (@catherine.wharton) on

Jackson is now linking up with London Irish's director of rugby Declan Kidney and head coach Les Kiss, who both worked with him in their time in Ireland.

There's a history between them; Kidney awarded Jackson his first international cap back in 2013, while Kiss worked with the fly-half with both the Ireland national team and Ulster.

"Players of the calibre of Paddy Jackson do not become available very often and both myself and Les are looking forward to working with him in the future" Kidney said.

"He is a player with proven international quality who we feel will add value to our squad, and it is pleasing that Paddy sees London Irish as a part of his future."

Speaking on the move, Jackson said: "I’m delighted to be joining London Irish next season at such an exciting and pivotal time for everyone involved with the club. London Irish have a clear vision for where they want to be and I look forward to being part of it."

He apologised following the trial for his disrespectful conduct towards the woman who accused him of rape; "The criticism of my behaviour is fully justified and I know I have betrayed the values of my family and those of the wider public."

It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how the general Irish public respond to the latest controversial news. 

Feature image: Instagram/@_thesmokingjacket

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