Ulster Rugby ban news reporters from press conference

The line between a news story and a sports story can often become blurred and that was clearly the case in Northern Ireland this week.

Ulster Rugby’s controversial decision to ban news reporters from a pre-match press conference left the Press Association unable to cover the media event, as they have no sports reporters based in Ireland.

The club, along with the Irish Rugby Football Union, have been in the spotlight after sacking stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding following their acquittal on rape charges.

It is understood news reporters were excluded because too many questions about the fallout from Jackson and Olding’s high-profile trial were asked at a previous pre-match press conference.

PA sports editor Ashley Broadley said: “All journalists, regardless of their specialism, should be allowed access to press conferences. Deciding who can attend and who should be denied access is not acceptable.

“This story was of public interest and legitimate questioning of people at the club should have been allowed, followed by fair and accurate reporting of the press conference.”

A spokesman for Ulster Rugby said: “The attendance of non-sport journalists at recent match week media events has caused significant disruption to regular attendees, who have been negatively impacted to the extent that they have been unable to access sufficient information and content for the days leading up to that week’s game.

“Therefore, following consultation with regular press conference attendees, it was decided that access to this week’s event would be restricted to sport journalists only.”