The jury in the rape trial of two Ireland rugby players has been released for the day without reaching a verdict.

The eight men and three women deliberated for more than two hours. 

Judge Patricia Smyth said: "Because of the critical state that you are at in the trial, I have to tell you in particular that you may not speak to anyone about this trial.

"Do not let anyone speak to you. Do not look at the press. Do not look at social media. Do not look at Twitter."

Issuing a further warning, Judge Smyth added: "Only deliberate when all 11 of you are together. Only speak about this trial when all 11 of you are present. I am going to release you and we will meet tomorrow at 10. Thank you very much."

Earlier Judge Smyth finished issuing legal directions to the eight men and three women at Belfast Crown Court.

She said: "Members of the jury, the only verdict that I can accept is a unanimous verdict and that is a verdict in respect of which all 11 of you agree."

Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, and Stuart Olding, 25, of Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast on 28 June 2016.

Mr Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Two other men have also been on trial on charges connected to the alleged incident.

Blane McIlroy, 26, of Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, denies exposure while Rory Harrison, 25, of Manse Road, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Thanking the jury panel, which retired at 12.40pm, Ms Smyth added: "Thank you all sincerely for stepping out of your own lives and coming here to give us your time."

The trial is now in its ninth week.

The alleged incident took place in the bedroom of Mr Jackson's home in south Belfast. The four defendants and four women went there by taxi after they were in Ollie's nightclub at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast city centre.

The complainant had just completed her A-level re-sits.

The four defendants were friends from their school days. Earlier on the day of the gathering in Mr Jackson's home, he and Mr Olding had returned from the Ireland rugby team's tour of South Africa.

Mr McIlroy was home on holidays from his University studies in the Atlanta and Mr Harrison was working in Dublin at the time, but was back home in Belfast.

The court heard how the four defendants gathered at the McIlroy family home where they drank alcohol while watching a football match on television.

They then were to a bar/restaurant in south Belfast where they drank more alcohol and watched another Euro finals soccer match on television.

They then went to Ollie's nightclub and were given passes to the VIP section of the nightclub where the guests included some members of the Northern Ireland soccer team who had returned from the Euro finals in France.

The complainant said she went by taxi to Paddy Jackson's house with three women she met outside the disco. She gave evidence of the alleged assault taking place in an upstairs bedroom of Paddy Jackson's house.

The two defendants denied the charges against them and said all the sexual activity was consensual.

Dara Florence, one of the three other women in the house, gave evidence of opening the bedroom door and seeing what was described as "a threesome".

She said she did not believe what she witnessed was rape. It was also her evidence that Mr Jackson was having sexual intercourse with the complainant. Mr Jackson's evidence was he was engaged in sexual activity but not sexual intercourse.

In the course of the trial the prosecution alleged that the defendants had concocted an account of events to cover up the alleged assault. This was denied by the accused.

Mr McIlroy is charged with going naked into the bedroom. The complainant said when he came in she had stated "how many times does a girl have to say No for it to sink in".

Mr Harrison accompanied the complainant home in a taxi.

He gave evidence that she was upset but said he thought this was because she had been rejected by Mr Jackson. The court heard she later sent him a message stating what took place with his friends was not consensual and that he replied "Jesus"... and later "I don't know what to say".

Mr Harrison told the court: "The more I thought about it, I've known Patrick since he was eight or nine and he's the last person in the world to rape someone."

The complainant gave her evidence over a number of days from behind a curtain, but she could be seen on a television screen by all those in Court Room 12. A number of times proceedings were interrupted while legal issues were addressed.

An adjournment took place when a juror became ill and this led to the reduction of the jury from 12 to 11 members.

Additional Reporting: PA