It’s rugby season again, and as the leaves fall from the trees we watch players fall from tackles, bruised and muddy. Players who normally wear spectacles have a difficult time in contact sports like rugby, because there has previously been no accepted standard for protective and corrective eyewear, and the use of goggles has been formally forbidden.
The International Rugby Board have commissioned specific ‘Rugby Goggles’ and are running a Global Law Trial to test the design and in order to create an official specification. The purpose of the field test is to ensure that the Rugby Goggles perform as designed – that they provide players with a means of wearing corrective lenses safely during contact Rugby.
The design is intended to be used with a glazed prescription insert to enable corrective lenses to be worn without any greater risk of injury to the player, but can be worn without this insert. Although the Rugby Goggles are not designed to provide extra protection, they may be worn for that purpose if the individual considers it beneficial. One such individual is Ian McKinley, an Irish rugby player, who lost the sight in his left eye after an unfortunate accident in a game in 2010:
“I lost my eye when a team-mate accidentally put his stud in it during a ruck, causing a full rupture,” said McKinley. “I was determined to stay playing despite my injury, and I continued with Leinster for a further 18 months. However, during that time, my good eye was deliberately gouged during two All-Ireland League matches.”
He reluctantly decided to give up playing at 21, but wasn’t going to be defeated. He went on to work with designers on the Masters in Medical Device Design programme at the National College of Art and Design to find a solution that would enable him to continue playing rugby. The protective goggles that were developed as a result are now being manufactured by Italian firm Raleri and used by 525 players worldwide.
To take part in the trial, or to get more information, please see the page here.