Pro Rugby Player Ian McKinley Launches Campaign to Play on Home Soil – Irish rugby player currently prevented from playing in Ireland due to IRFU’s non-participation in World Rugby protective eyewear trial
An Irish rugby player competing at the most elite levels of the sport has today launched a campaign calling on the IRFU and World Rugby to facilitate his participation in fixtures on Irish soil.
Twenty-five-year-old pro out-half Ian McKinley, who is from Dublin and formerly played with Leinster, is currently prevented from playing in Ireland because he needs to wear protective goggles during games.
A trial of the goggles was sanctioned by World Rugby in January 2014, but the IRFU has declined to participate, effectively blocking rugby players that require the goggles from playing in Ireland.
Twenty-four rugby unions internationally are participating in the trial, including seven of the top 10 ranked nations in the world. Only the Irish, English and French unions have declined to participate.
McKinley was called up to the Zebre squad last month, having been signed to Viadana, one of the biggest sides in the Italian league, since August 2014. He played for Zebre against Llanelli Scarlets in the Pro12 competition in Italy in recent weeks, but found out last Friday that he cannot participate in the team’s next fixture – because it is in Ireland (Zebre play Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway tomorrow).
McKinley said he believes his rights under the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights are being breached because of the position adopted by the IRFU and the lack of action on the part of World Rugby.
“I received a letter from the IRFU last week, saying they could not permit me to play against Connacht if I wear the protective goggles,” explained McKinley.
“They had sought World Rugby’s advice, and were told a player from a participating union may not wear goggles while playing in the jurisdiction of a union that is not participating in the trial.
“So I am 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.”
McKinley, his family and supporters are contacting leading politicians, academics, policymakers, medical experts, legal experts and representatives of sports bodies as part of their awareness-raising campaign.
They have also launched a petition, calling on the IRFU and World Rugby to resolve the current situation, and they are calling on members of the public to support their campaign by signing the petition at