London - Ireland's second choice flyhalf Paddy Jackson will stand trial on a charge of rape, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
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 team-mate Stuart Olding.
Two other men stand accused of lesser charges related to the alleged incidents.
It was the first time Jackson and 24-year-old Olding were required to attend court -- which was a preliminary investigation into the accusations -- since being charged.
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.
Jackson played the last of his 25 Tests for Ireland against Japan in June whilst utility back Olding won the last of his four caps against South Africa in June 2016.
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 informed in July this year they had a case to answer.