The IRFU is coming under increasing pressure to sign up to a World Rugby trial, as even more kids are being prevented from playing rugby. This weekend, two U13 players from Portarlington were refused permission from a referee for plaiyng the game that they love. The reason is because both kids were wearing goggles. They aren't the first kids prevented from playing the game, but hopefully they will be the last.
The IRFU are adamant that no player will be allowed to play rugby in Ireland whilst wearing the goggles. This is despite a worldwide World Rugby trial for the goggles lead by ex-Leinster outhalf Ian McKinley. McKinley lost his sight in one eye after an unfortunate accident involving a stud in his eye during an AIL game for UCD. The accident cost him his sight in that eye, and now McKinley is only able to play the game he loves while wearing goggles.
This leads to issues, because not every union in the game is part of World Rugby's trial. There are only 24 nations in the world allowing the trial, including seven of the top ten ranking countries in the world. That includes the top five nations in the world - New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, and Wales - but Ireland, England, and France aren't part of the trial.
This means that McKinley, and many others are not allowed to play rugby if the game takes place in any of those countries. It doesn't help McKinley very much, as he recently made a return to the Pro 12 with Zebre - and was forced to sit out a game with Connacht in Galway.
But it's worse for the kids playing the game for the first time who have been stopped from playing. The World Cup is meant to encourage children to take up rugby, and this isn't helping. It's not the referee's fault that he wouldn't allow the kids to play - the blame should lay on the IRFU.
McKinley spoke to Anton Savage on Today FM about the issue, and the Portalington kids. McKinley revealed the reasons he had been given for the IRFU not partaking in the trial - safety and insurance. This is despite, according to McKinley, over 500 players taking part in the trial in 24 countries with absolutely no incidents with the goggles.
McKinley says that the goggles are made of polycarbon, and will not break on the wearer's eye.
McKinley says that in the end, he hopes that either the IRFU agree to sign up to the trial, or preferably World Rugby ratify the goggles for use. If you want to help McKinley's campaign, you can sign his petition here:
— McKinley Campaign (@LetIanPlay) October 19, 2015
H/T Anthony Jewell
Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE