Ryan is setting his sights on rugby career

Ryan Totten (8) shows off his new eye wear sponsored by Richard Sweeney opticians in Belfast. INCR16
Ryan Totten (8) shows off his new eye wear sponsored by Richard Sweeney opticians in Belfast. INCR16

A Coleraine school boy who was banned from playing rugby because of poor vision, took to the pitch at the weekend - for the first time in over a year!

Eight-year-old Ryan Totten was the happiest player on the field, when he was part of Coleraine’s Mini Rugby squad at a tournament in Randalstown.

The DH Christie pupil became embroiled in a row with the sport’s governing body along with professional player, Ian McKinley, over their ruling that goggles were not permitted in the sport at any level.

However in January, the IRFU agreed to register to participate in a World Rugby goggles trial, a decision that was welcomed by the Coleraine family.

Ryan’s mum, Christine explained: “This all started last year when Ryan was playing mini rugby at Coleraine.

“He was told he couldn’t play because of the goggles. I highlighted the issue through the BBC and to be honest things just spiralled. The McKinley family got on board and met with IRFU medical chiefs, and now Ireland is part of the trial.

“It was very frustrating for me as a parent,” told Christine.

“Common sense had really gone out the window, how could someone wearing a pair of goggles hurt another player at Ryan’s level, when there is no contact, it just didn’t make sense. Ryan was devastated that he couldn’t play.

“We were really pleased with the ruling, but, I just feel that if the issue had not been highlighted in the media, other children may have missed out on the chance to take part in the sport.”

Ryan’s specially designed eye wear has been sponsored by Belfast optician Richard Sweeney, who is a rugby referee.

“Ryan is long sighted, so he could see down to the end of the pitch, but not up close,” explained Christine.

“Richard Sweeney sponsored Ryan’s goggles and he is really pleased with them. He isn’t the best player in the world, but at least now he will be able to see,” said the proud mum.