Do Not Sell My Personal Information
ADVERTISEMENT
RugbyDump RugbyDump
Friday Nov 17, 2017

Blind in one eye, this is the moment Ian McKinley made his historic Test debut

Blind in one eye, this is the moment Ian McKinley made his historic Test debut

Six years after losing sight in his left eye in a horrific rugby accident, Irish flyhalf Ian McKinley battled the odds to make his much-publicized Test debut, coming off the bench as Italy beat Fiji 19-10 at the weekend.

Once an up-and-coming star in the Irish ranks, by many accounts McKinley was on track to seriously challenge Johnny Sexton for the position vacated by Ronan O’Gara. That is until a freak accident occured that left him eventually blind in one eye. 

While playing in the Leinster system, a teammate accidentally stood on his face, thus impairing his vision and essentially starting this long journey.

As he said in the below World Rugby feature: “The vision went straight away in my eye, so obviously I knew there was somegthing drastically wrong.” He was directed to stay still by the team doctor as the eye was “slightly out”.

McKinley actually recovered and was back to playing with Leinster just six months after the initial injury. But more bad news revealed that a cataract had developed and that blindness in the eye was inevitable. To play on would mean serious depth-perception issues and other possible limitations.  

Rather than turn his back on rugby, McKinley accepted an invitation to work in Italy as a coach and technical director. Not content with being forced out at the young age of 21, he still possessed skill enough to join PRO14 team Zebre and later, his current team Benetton Treviso. 

This time, however, it would be with proper protection – specialized goggles.

This proved to be rather daunting as well, as many governing bodies frowned on the idea, particularly back home in Ireland, where they would not take part in the official World Rugby goggles trial. Once he could prove his new, revolutionary goggles posed no safety hazard to himself or others around him, he was free to wear them. In fact, his play has been good enough to merit selection for Italy.

Though certainly not the path McKinley would have scripted to international Test level success, it is certainly one he’s thankful for, calling his selection to the Azzurri “the high point of my career.” 

There’s no doubting where his heart – and skill – now lay. “Italy is my home… Italy has given me a second opportunity when others wouldn’t and for that I owe them a huge amount.”

Last Saturday, six years after the start of his ordeal, 27-year-old McKinley made a historic first appearance for his adopted country, coming off the bench in the 61st minute as replacement flyhalf.

Fiji were still a converted score away until he stepped up at the death to record his first points with a successful kick at goal, helping Italy to the 19-10 win.

He later received high praise from Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, who saw him play in his early days.

“What a great kid. A natural left-footer, a fantastic defender; courageous, but technically smart as well. Can control the game really well,” Schmidt said.

McKinley, who became the first international player to ever wearing special protective goggles in a Test match, has been selected to play again this weekend, when Italy host Argentina in Florence.

Below is a short recap of the special moment that saw him earn his first Test cap.

Credit: World Rugby

ADVERTISEMENT

Related Articles

  • 11 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Experts explain what actually happens...

  • 11 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Leigh Halfpenny makes yet another...

  • 11 WEEKS AGO

    Parisse alley-oop magic sets up brilliant...



ADVERTISEMENT

Great Tries

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: All 42 Test match tries scored by George North

  • 6 DAYS AGO

    Josua Tuisova makes rugby look easy, this time setting up a try from No8

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    WATCH: Piutau sets up the epic try EVERYONE is talking about

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    DAN CARTER: The ultimate highlights package of an incredible 19-year career

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    Nigel Owens explains why THAT Jonny May try was awarded vs Italy

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

  • 2 DAYS AGO

    Duffie lucky with just yellow as shoulder clocks Kerevi in the face

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: All FIVE Maro Itoje penalties against Wales in Six Nations clash

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Classic moment Chris Latham throws opposition across the touchline like a sandbag

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Cooper laments the direction rugby is heading in as we see another breakdown red card

  • 5 DAYS AGO

    Nasty incident in Super Rugby Aotearoa opener goes unpunished as ref says play on

View All

See It To Believe It

  • 2 DAYS AGO

    Referee Pascal Gauzere admits to those two huge mistakes in England’s loss to Wales

  • 2 DAYS AGO

    Officials somehow overrule seemingly clear Iain Henderson grounding

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    Online abuse over Owen Farrell interview reduces BBC presenter to tears

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: The two HUGE decisions in Six Nations clash which have enraged English rugby fans

  • 4 DAYS AGO

    Barrett's conversion somehow ruled out in Super Rugby Aotearoa clash

View All

Funnies

  • 3 DAYS AGO

    WATCH: Hilarious try fail has Samoan commentators in stitches

  • 2 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: The funniest and most controversial moments of Wayne Barnes' career

  • 5 WEEKS AGO

    Biarritz score EPIC late try in dramatic yet hilarious fashion to win Pro D2 match

  • 6 WEEKS AGO

    Fijian wing who lifted a referee like Lion King now faces a disciplinary hearing

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    Referee JP Doyle reacts to hilarious moment red card was dished out after bizarre celebration

View All

Amateur

  • 17 WEEKS AGO

    Viral video of Scottish club brawl goes down a storm with rugby community

  • 54 WEEKS AGO

    RUGBYDUMP BLITZ: This Best of the Week round up is sure to entertain you

  • 55 WEEKS AGO

    RD BLITZ - Disaster, just when it looked so promising...

  • 55 WEEKS AGO

    That glorious moment that will live on forever, like it or not

  • 55 WEEKS AGO

    RD Blitz - PROP'S Lionel Messi wizardy creates incredible try

View All

Player Features

  • 1 WEEK AGO

    WATCH: Bumping off tacklers and taking high balls, Rob Kearney had an impressive Super Rugby debut

  • 7 WEEKS AGO

    Brian Moore on money in modern rugby and how it should never be compared to 'outlier' football

  • 8 WEEKS AGO

    Tuisova's wrecking ball montage will make you grateful you never made it as a pro

  • 14 WEEKS AGO

    New Zealand rugby pod admit Owen Farrell is world class

  • 14 WEEKS AGO

    WATCH: Bath prop launches Amazon documentary focused on those from non-traditional backgrounds

View All
Blind in one eye, this is the moment Ian McKinley made his historic Test debut | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos