Paddy Jackson, along with co-accused Stuart Olding, is not allowed to play rugby while their case continues. Photo: Reuters

LONDON – Ireland’s second-choice flyhalf Paddy Jackson denied a charge of rape through his lawyer at a court hearing in Belfast on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old – widely seen as the man to replace veteran Jonathan Sexton when he retires from international rugby – has been charged along with Ulster and Ireland teammate Stuart Olding, while two other men face lesser charges related to the alleged incidents.

Neither the 25-times capped Jackson nor Olding, 24 and capped four times, appeared in court, their lawyers transmitting their pleas.

Neither player is to be considered for selection by either club or country until the legal process is over, according to the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby. 

That is likely to see them miss the whole of the coming season.

The short legal proceedings saw the charges lodged officially with a district judge.

Lawyers for the rugby stars told the court they were not legally required to attend the hearing, which lasted less than 10 minutes. The court accepted this.

Their lawyers also requested from the Public Prosecution Service copies of photographs and videos related to the case.

Olding is charged with two counts of rape, while Jackson is charged with one count of rape and one of sexual assault.

Stuart Olding is a centre for Ireland. Photo: Reuters

The offences are alleged to have been committed against the same woman in Belfast in June last year. They were arrested at the time, but released while a report on the allegations was compiled.

They were later informed they had a case to answer.

The next hearing will be on September 6.