Northern Ireland

Rugby players to be given 'sexual relationships' classes

Rugby player holding ball Image copyright South_agency/Getty Creative
Image caption The subject will be part of Rugby Players Ireland's (RPI) wellbeing workshops for players

Rugby players are to be given "sexual health and relationships," classes by the body which represents professional players, The Times has reported.

The subject will be part of Rugby Players Ireland's (RPI) wellbeing workshops for players.

The classes, which aim to promote "healthy behavioural attitudes," follow a high-profile rugby rape trial.

Ireland and Ulster Rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were both acquitted of all charges.

'Integrity, inclusivity and respect'

However the wider issues raised by the case, and in particular the players' message exchanges - containing explicit sexual terms about women - have prompted intense debate.

Mr Olding and Mr Jackson had their contracts terminated earlier this month after a review by the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby.

The IRFU/Ulster Rugby also said that Ulster and Ireland winger Craig Gilroy has been sanctioned over a text message he sent to Stuart Olding.

RPI said their Player Wellbeing Programme which focuses on "off-field development" was being developed "in light of recent events".

The organisation said this was "to ensure that our values of integrity, inclusivity and respect, integral to the game of rugby, are understood by all our players and reflected in their behaviour on and off the pitch".

'Healthy behavioural attitudes'

The programme is being developed in conjunction with the IRFU and provincial management teams.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Stuart Olding (left) and Paddy Jackson were cleared of rape charges after a nine-week trial in Belfast

Dr Ella McCabe, a Senior Clinical Psychologist is facilitating the workshops designed to educate the players on "healthy behavioural attitudes".

The RPI said the content of its programme is "reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that it continues to evolve in line with current trends".

"We have invested more resources in this area, including broadening the curriculum delivered to players through individual consultations, group workshops and the provision of educational material so that all players receive the support they need in their daily lives, while also preparing them for their transition from the game," it added.

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