Irish rugby players at all levels who suffer sight problems will now be able to wear special goggles after the IRFU signed up to a worldwide trial of the headgear.
The Irish Rugby Football Union yesterday confirmed it would now allow players to partake in the World Rugby Raleri Goggle trial, meaning a player wearing goggles could theoretically take the field for Ireland at senior level.
The IRFU had previously opted out of the trial as it had misgivings over the design of the special goggles, but a spokesman said those had now been resolved.
The spokesman also said the ability to wear the goggles was likely to benefit younger players who, for medical reasons, cannot wear contact lenses.
The trial is already underway and has been extended until the end of this year.
It only applies to goggles made by Raleri Italy, made in one size and carrying the official World Rugby Trial Approved logo.
Anyone interested in participating must log onto the World Rugby website, fill out a form, use the code provided to buy the goggles, have their optician fit the correct lens (only polycarbonate or similar lenses can be used) and then provide the referee at matches with a form from their club confirming that they will be wearing the goggles while playing.
Players must also have proof from their doctor or optician that they need to wear the goggles due to sight issues.
The development could also have ramifications for senior players. Former Leinster back Ian McKinley lost the sight in his left eye and retired in 2011 but then returned to play for Viadana in Italy, where the wearing of eye protection is allowed.
He had campaigned for the wider use of the goggles and yesterday took to Twitter to express his joy that the wearing of the goggles was now allowed in Irish rugby.
Anyone seeking more information can visit: http://playerwelfare.worldrugby.org/goggles
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