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Former Leinster Starlet Launches Campaign To Allow Him To Play In Ireland Again

Former Leinster Starlet Launches Campaign To Allow Him To Play In Ireland Again
By Jeremy Fullam
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Former Leinster player Ian McKinley was hotly tipped to make a big name for himself in rugby as he was making his way through the under-age ranks a few years ago.

The fly half's progress was unfortunately blunted by a horrific training ground injury which saw him lose the use of one eye. He continued to play with one eye, but after further deterioration he was forced to quit the game aged just 21.

When World Rugby introduced a trial for protective goggles McKinley was handed a route back into the game, however his joy was bitter-sweet when the IRFU refused to sign up to the trial, meaning the former Ireland under 20 international had to move to Italy in order to get back on the pitch.


Now plying his trade for Zebre, McKinley has made a successful return to the Pro 12 and lined out against Llanelli two weeks ago thanks to his protective eyewear.

Now, McKinley is looking to make a return to Ireland to play against Connacht tomorrow but has been refused permission to wear his protective goggles as the IRFU has still not agreed to trial the eye wear.  The Dubliner describes the feeling as "heartbreaking" as he is refused the right to play in his own country and he has taken to social media to let the let the world know of his situation and to promote a petition to make the IRFU change its stance on protective goggles.

Here's McKinely's statement in full:

I was hoping to play with Zebre against Connacht in my home country of Ireland this weekend. However, I was told by the IRFU last week that I can’t – they won’t permit me to wear the protective goggles I need while playing because they haven’t signed up for the googles trial being run by World Rugby (they’re one of only three unions internationally declining to take part in the trial).

The IRFU were told by World Rugby that a player from a union that’s participating in the trial (as the Italian union is) may not wear goggles while playing in the jurisdiction of a union that’s not participating. So I’m now faced with a ludicrous situation, whereby the IRFU will allow me to play if I do not wear the goggles, but they will not permit me to play if I wear this essential piece of protective gear.

It is heart-breaking that I am not currently allowed to play in my own home country. Over the past two years, I have been in ongoing contact with World Rugby and the IRFU to see if we can resolve this situation once and for all. Unfortunately, I feel I now have no option but to engage in a public campaign to highlight my plight. The IRFU have made it clear that they do not intend subscribing to the trial and World Rugby are stalling: it is in their power to compel domestic governing bodies to sanction the wearing of the goggles, but they are not doing so.

Over the coming days, I’m going to be participating in media interviews on this issue and I’m also calling on members of the public to show their support by signing an online petition.

I would really appreciate it if you could give your backing to this campaign.

You can sign the petition here.

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