World Rugby has approved a game-changing amendment to the laws of the game that will enable the wearing of Raleri rugby goggles at all levels of the game, reaffirming the sport’s commitment to inclusivity.
In line with the international federation’s vision of ‘a sport for all’, approval by Council follows a comprehensive law trial, launched in 2014 after World Rugby identified the need to develop a product that paves the way for greater participation in a safe environment. The IRFU joined the trial in 2016.
In partnership with Italy-based eyewear specialists Raleri, a design was developed to facilitate the inclusion of prescription lenses beyond contact lenses into a device that does not increase the risk of injury to the wearer or to players coming into contact with the wearer.
World Rugby also recognises the potential to enable those with limited or no sight in one eye to participate in the sport more comfortably, as demonstrated by the incredible story of Italy international Ian McKinley.
The successful trial has attracted more than 2,000 registrants, of which over 545 have since purchased goggles and are now using them. The detailed feedback from participants in the trial allowed World Rugby to develop an evidence-based performance specification in partnership with the University of Ulster and Bournemouth University to refine the design of the goggles.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said:
The approval of this law amendment is a very significant advancement for rugby and for contact sport, demonstration of World Rugby’s commitment to game development and player welfare, but also in our mission to making rugby a more accessible and inclusive sport.
“This pioneering project was launched to address a specific issue and with the help of Raleri, the University of Ulster, and Bournemouth University, we have successfully developed a product that will enable more people to play rugby in a safe and comfortable way and we thank all those involved, particularly the players, for their support and passion in making this idea a reality that will transform access to the sport.”
A high-profile supporter of the trial is Italy’s Dublin-born out-half Ian McKinley, who last year became the first player to represent a full senior international 15s team wearing goggles. Watch his story here.
Anyone interested in the approved goggles should visit www.raleri.com.
Reflecting its commitment to advances in player welfare, the World Rugby Council has also approved a Law 4 trial to enable the assessment of headgear devices which, according to the manufacturers, have been designed to achieve specific, quantifiable medical advances, while aligning with Law 4 and Regulation 12 criteria.
Recognising the importance of assessing the evolution of technologies designed to manage and improve player welfare, trials will be permitted subject to strict criteria, including detailed evaluation by World Rugby, safety and independent test house assessment and shared trial research.
While headgear is permitted in law on the basis that it does not cause harm to the wearer or an opponent, current research does not indicate a concussion prevention benefit and manufacturers should not make such claims.