Ian McKinley’s Story Shines A Light On The Residency Rule
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The residency rule has been a hot topic once again over the last couple of weeks with Bundee Aki coming into the Ireland set-up. The Connacht centre recently became eligible for Ireland and has been thrust straight into the starting line-up for the Springboks Test this weekend.
As the likes of CJ Stander and Jared Payne were, Aki has been the subject of abuse in some circles, while the rule itself has also once again been blasted, despite World Rugby already moving to increase it from three years to five.
Another man who has recently taken advantage of the rule, but perhaps slid under the radar to a certain extent is former Leinster playmaker Ian McKinley. While someone like Aki could perhaps have stayed in New Zealand and fought for a spot with the All Blacks, Ian McKinley was left with no other choice if he was to continue his dream of playing rugby at the highest level.
After a freak injury, he was told he could never play rugby again. Irish Rugby refused him the right to wear protective goggles, and McKinley decided to go to Italy and start his career once again from the bottom.
Four years later and now he’s been given the chance to play international rugby with Italy, after being named on the bench for their Test with Fiji this weekend.
McKinley told ESPN last week that Italian rugby has given him back his professional career.
Italy has given me a new lease of life. It has given me my professional career back. They were the first nation to sign up for the goggles. I can only ever be grateful because they have given me so much.
It would be amazing to be part of a World Cup because that would be a full 10-years circle on being with the Irish U20s at the World Cup, but again it is such a long way away and this experience has taught me not to think too far ahead.
Say what you want about the rule, but McKinley’s story shines a light on it.