Monday 24 October 2016

IRFU defends decision to 'kick out' seven-year-old for wearing glasses

Barry Lennon

Published 20/08/2015 | 12:13

Ryan Totten: Picture from BBC Northern Ireland
Ryan Totten: Picture from BBC Northern Ireland
A general view of the Aviva Stadium

The IRFU has defended itself after a seven-year-old boy was told he could not play rugby due to a vision impairment.

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The governing body of Irish rugby were criticised after it did not allow Coleraine's Ryan Totten to wear specialist goggles which he needs to play rugby, for health and safety fears.

Unlike Scotland or Italy, Ireland is not one of the testing nations for the sports goggles which he is forced to wear as he is too young to wear contact lenses. 

Stephen McNamara, IRFU Communications Director, said: " For health and safety reasons the IRFU does not permit players to wear eyewear of any kind during play. 

"While the IRFU understands the frustration this can cause, we must prioritise the safety of all players at all times.  After consultation with the IRFU Medical Committee, it is was agreed that the IRFU would not participate in the new IRB trial and await its outcomes before any review of our current policy can be undertaken."

Ryan's mother Christine Totten has said that he was "upset, embarrassed and disappointed" that he could not take part.

"All his friends were able to play on and Ryan was removed from the middle of the game," Mrs Totten told BBC.

"When he got home, he said he got kicked out of rugby - these are his words - 'because of the way he was made'."

Former Ulster and Ireland rugby player Willie Anderson also said the IRFU should answer Ryan's call to change its policy.

"It's very disappointing for him. He's obviously very keen," Mr Anderson said.

"For someone like Ryan there is not going to be much high-impact when he is doing contact rugby at this point in time."

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