Ian McKinley returned to rugby with the help of protective goggles, and made his Six Nations debut for Italy this year, having qualified via the residency rule. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

World Rugby on Tuesday approved an amendment to the laws of the sport that will allow players to wear protective goggles at all levels of the game.

The approval by the World Rugby Council follows a trial launched in 2014 after the sport’s governing body identified the need for a product that enables players with limited or no sight in one eye to participate in the sport.

“The approval of this law amendment is a very significant advancement for rugby and for contact sport,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“This is a strong demonstration of World Rugby’s commitment to game innovation and player welfare, but also our mission to making rugby a more accessible and inclusive sport at all levels.”

The trial attracted more than 2 000 participants, including Italy flyhalf Ian McKinley, who became the first player to wear goggles at international level.

Born in Dublin, McKinley began his career with Leinster before he was forced to retire from rugby union in 2011, having lost sight in his left eye after being caught by a stray boot.

McKinley returned to the sport with the help of protective goggles and made his Six Nations debut for Italy this year, having qualified via the residency rule.

“Since I started using them, I’ve managed to play Pro14, both European competitions and... at the international level,” McKinley said.

“They’ve been hugely important to my development, but also it’s a massive a massive day for kids as well if they need goggles from the protective side of things, or to help with the vision.”

Reuters