SPORTS

World governing body of rugby starts global test of player goggles

01/22/2014 06:19 EST | Updated 03/24/2014 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Rugby is getting a new look, with the sport's world governing body approving a test run of specially designed rugby goggles.

The International Rugby Board says the new eyewear was developed "to enable people who require corrective lenses to wear rugby goggles that are safe to themselves, their teammates and opponents."

The approved model from Italian manufacturer Raleri (www.raleri.com) looks like sleek ski goggles and feature high-speed impact resistance, anti-abrasion surfaces, anti-fogging, UV protection and a specially designed strap with no clips, buckles or sharp edges.

The front of the goggles have cutouts to accommodate corrective lenses (polycarbonate or plastic).

The trial is worldwide but regional rugby governing bodies have to sign up before players in that country can use the goggles. Rugby Canada plans to do that and hopes to have information up on its webside (www.rugbycanada.ca) by the end of the month.

Under terms of the trial, anyone can wear the goggles on the recommendation of an ophthalmologist or similar medical professional.

Players then have to register with the IRB (www.irbplayerwelfare.com/goggles) to get a purchase code that allows them to buy the goggles.

Only the approved goggles are allowed, with referees permitted to check players' eyewear as needed.

Players who try the goggles will be asked to provide feedback to the IRB, which will then determine if the eyewear will be retained.

"Rugby is a game for all and the IRB recognizes that not everyone who needs corrective glasses can wear contact lenses, particularly children, so we have been collaborating with a leading manufacturer to design and rigorously test a pair of rugby goggles that will be safe and effective in a rugby environment," Steve Griffiths, the IRB's head of technical services, said in a statement Wednesday.

"We believe we have done that now and this trial is good news for anyone with eyesight issues who wishes to play the game."

Canadian coach Kieran Crowley said several national team players wear contact lenses.

"You always have those problems where they come out," said the former New Zealand international.

The IRB says the goggles are not designed to provide extra protection for players with chronic eye conditions, "but if such players consider them to be beneficial they can be worn for that purpose."

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