McKinley announces second reti...


McKinley announces second retirement from rugby

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Former Italy, Benetton and Leinster outhalf Ian McKinley has announced his retirement from rugby after a ten-year career.

McKinley was forced to retire ten years ago after sustaining a detached retina during an All-Ireland League match, which resulted in him losing the sight in his left eye.

The Leinster academy graduate revealed the news in a social media post on Monday.

"Today, aged 31, I officially announce my second retirement from playing rugby at all levels of the game. My professional career has been unconventional," wrote McKinley.

"10 years ago, I was forced aged 21 to announce my retirement from Leinster and Ireland u20s, when my left eyeball was perforated and my retina detached, following a rugby injury. It was very hard to accept this decision."

McKinley moved to Italy to work on becoming a coach but it was there that he became involved with trials of special protective playing goggles which were eventually approved by World Rugby in 2016.

He went on to play for Benetton before being playing for Italy after qualifying through the residency rules. The Dubliner made his debut against Fiji in 2017 and went on to collect eight caps.

"I moved to Udine in Italy to coach rugby," added McKinley. "After three years an opportunity arose to become the first player in the world to use Rugby Goggles and play with protection for my good eye.

"This return led to a global campaign seeking access to play at the highest levels of rugby, albeit as a visually impaired, professional out-half.

"By helping to bring into law the worldwide use of Rugby Goggles, it has been an incredible joy to see thousands of other visually impaired players enabled to play rugby. This will always give me an enormous sense of achievement and pride.

"Following the Barbarians, Pro14, Champions Cup, Six Nations and International campaigns, today I get to finish my playing career again, but happily this time on my own terms.

"I want to sincerely thank all the teams, coaches and staff from school to international level that I have been a part of. I am deeply indebted to teams in Ireland such as St Columba’s College, UCD, St Mary’s College, Leinster Rugby and Ireland underage teams who nurtured and developed my early career.

"I am also particularly grateful to those in Italy who gave me a second chance- Leonorso, Viadana, Zebre, Benetton and of course the Italian national team.

"I also want to thank the rugby community in Ireland and Italy especially, who have been incredibly supportive in my playing journey from beginning to end. And to the teammates who have become friends for life.

"But mostly I’d like to thank my amazing wife, family and friends who have lifted me up in my darkest days and have supported me unconditionally throughout my playing career.

"I look forward to what the future holds."

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Guinness Pro14 Ian Mckinley Ireland Irish Rugby Italy Leinster Six Nations

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