Ian McKinley has welcomed the news that World Rugby has approved an amendment to the laws of the game that will mean that goggles will be allowed to be used at all levels of the game.
McKinley lost sight in his left eye in a freak accident in 2010 when a stray boot from a fellow teammate perforated his left eye while playing a club match for University College Dublin, leaving him partially blind in that eye.
The flyhalf retired briefly in 2011 after the shock realisation that his retina had detached, rendering him completely blind in his left eye.
The former Leinster player resumed his career with the aid of protective goggles for Rugby Viadana in Italy, a semi-professional side playing in the Italian Eccellenza.
He now plays for the Italian national team and Benetton and welcomed today’s development from World Rugby.
“I started using them, I managed to play PRO14, both European competitions and managed to play at international level, so they’ve been hugely important to my development, but also as well it’s a massive day for kids if they need the goggles from a protective side of things or help with their vision. So I am very, very grateful that this has come through and I am delighted for all of us goggle users.”
Watch: Exceptional Stories: Ian McKinley
The approval by World Rugby follows a comprehensive law trial, launched in 2014 after World Rugby identified the need to develop a product that paves the way for greater participation in a safe environment.
In partnership with Italy-based eyewear specialists Raleri, a design was developed to facilitate the inclusion of prescription lenses beyond contact lenses into a device that does not increase the risk of injury to the wearer or to players coming into contact with the wearer.
The successful trial attracted more than 2,000 registrants. The detailed feedback from participants in the trial allowed World Rugby to develop an evidence-based performance specification in partnership with the Ulster University and the University of Bradford in the UK to refine the design of the goggles.
“This is a strong demonstration of World Rugby’s commitment to game innovation and player welfare, but also our mission to making rugby a more accessible and inclusive sport at all levels.”
“This pioneering project was launched to address a specific issue, and with the help of Raleri, Ulster University and the University of Bradford, we have successfully developed a product that will enable more people to play rugby in a safe and comfortable way and we thank all those involved, particularly the players, for their support and passion in making this idea a reality that will transform access to the sport.”
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