Chief Executive Shane Logan has denied that a culture of misogyny exists at Ulster Rugby and insisted that the culture at the club is actually “very healthy”.
The CEO broke his silence after two players, Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, had their contracts revoked following the not guilty verdicts delivered at the end of their trial on rape charges.
Protests have been held, including at Kingspan Stadium, over behaviour that came to light during the court proceedings and ultimately led to the players being sacked.
However, Mr Logan insists that behaviour is not indicative of a wider problem within Ulster Rugby.
Ulster and Ireland teammates Jackson and Olding were found not guilty of all charges against them.
However, a review was carried out amid concerns over details including sexually explicit conversations on WhatsApp that were deemed derogatory towards women.
Both Jackson and Olding have expressed regret and admitted their behaviour fell short of what was expected of them.
A third player, Craig Gilroy – who was not involved in the trial – has also apologised for his part in the conversations and been disciplined with a two-week suspension.
On Monday, Mr Logan told UTV the whole experience had been “traumatic” for Ulster Rugby’s players, staff and fans.
Explaining that the decision to revoke the players’ contracts was a unanimous one taken by the IRFU management committee, he said the review panel had “looked at all the facts and circumstances”.
He added: “By their (Jackson and Olding) own admission, their behaviours fell very far short of what is expected of a role model, of a professional player in Ulster and Ireland.”
Mr Logan further stated that Ulster has good programmes of education and training and reinforcement in place, but that the club “absolutely has to look at itself”.
“We will look – because nobody is perfect,” he said.
“In my experience, the culture is actually very healthy and very good, and a couple of players made serious errors of judgement.”