Ireland rugby internationals to stand trial over rape charges

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BELFAST (Reuters) – Two Ireland rugby internationals accused of raping a woman in Belfast last year will stand trial over the charges, a Northern Irish court ruled on Tuesday.

Ireland flyhalf Paddy Jackson, 25, was charged in Northern Ireland with one count of rape and one of sexual assault while Ulster teammate Stuart Olding, 24, faces two counts of rape.

District Judge George Conner said he was satisfied there was a case to go forward to the Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

Jackson and Olding’s lawyers have said they strongly deny the accusations. The accused men, who appeared in court on Tuesday, both said “no” when asked if they had anything to say.

Neither player will play at club or national level until the court process is concluded, the Irish Rugby Football Union has said.

Jackson has played 25 tests for Ireland, mainly as an understudy to British and Irish Lions flyhalf Johnny Sexton. Olding has represented his country four times at centre.

(Reporting by Amanda Ferguson,; Editing by Padraic Halpin and Andrew Heavens)

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Xuseen Axmed

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