Diageo silent on O'Brien's London Irish move after voicing Jackson 'concerns'

Diageo has kept silent on whether it has an issue with Sean O’Brien signing with London Irish, a club it sponsors, after raising “serious concerns” over Paddy Jackson moving to the same club.

Irish international O’Brien (32) is currently the subject of an Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) investigation after an allegation was made that he urinated on another man in a Dublin pub last month.

The Leinster player is among a number of key signings which have been made by London Irish following their promotion to the Premiership in England.

Jackson (27), whose contract was cancelled by the IRFU in the fallout of his rape trial acquittal last year, has also moved to the Exiles team.

However, this week Diageo, which is the parent company of Guinness, said that it has “serious concerns” over the signing of Jackson by a club with whom it has a major sponsorship deal.

Representatives from the UK multinational company will this week meet with London Irish to share their reservations over the matter.

A spokesperson for Diageo said: “We are meeting the club this week to discuss our serious concerns regarding their decision, which is not consistent with our values.”

However, when they were asked if they shared similar concerns over O’Brien signing for London Irish in the wake of the pub-urination inquiry, a Diageo spokesman declined to comment.

It has been alleged O’Brien urinated on another man in a Dublin pub on the weekend of May 26 as Leinster were celebrating their Pro14 title.

The matter has not been reported to gardaí, and therefore is not the subject of a criminal investigation.

O’Brien is due to have a hip operation, which will rule him out of this year’s Rugby World Cup, and will join London Irish on a three-year deal later this year.

His future team-mate Jackson has been playing in France since his contract with the IRFU was cancelled due to messages exchanged with his co-accused that were central to the trial.

The concerns raised by Diageo over Jackson’s signing come just days after a separate London Irish sponsor parted ways with the club. Online shopping site Cash Converters pulled the plug on its deal with the club last week, and cited its commitment to high standards as a reason.

London Irish told the Irish Independent they were aware of Diageo’s plans to release a statement and were continuing to engage with the company.

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