Rugby World Cup: All Blacks “no worries” about Ardie Savea’s eye problems, glasses


The All Blacks say they have no concerns about Ardie Savea’s deteriorating eyesight in his left eye or his decision to wear specially approved glasses for the first time in his career in the pool match of Wednesday night’s World Cup against Canada.

They shouldn’t either, on both fronts. Savea is having the best season of his career and is clearly dealing with his eyesight issues with little to no difficulty. He’s never played with more impact, more precision or more intention, and there hasn’t been a drop in skill areas like handling and passing.


All Black Ardie Savea will look even more like a superhero with the flanker set to wear goggles.

And donning glasses in the heat of a rugby battle is not unprecedented, with Italian player Ian McKinley wearing them since 2014 after returning to the game following major eye complications from a misplaced boot. ‘a teammate in a club meets.

The fit New Zealand striker also tested his new goggles under the harshest conditions in Beppu, southern Japan this week, including a training ground invasion by a dragonfly squadron who had all the All Blacks in cover.

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Of course, goggles have been common in other sports for a long time. The NBA has a long history of basketball players wearing glasses to protect themselves from stray fingers, while in squash they are now de rigueur due to the obvious problems with stray rackets nearby.

The All Blacks let go of forward Ardie Savea and team doctor Tony Page discuss his new goggles.


The All Blacks let go of forward Ardie Savea and team doctor Tony Page discuss his new goggles.

Savea, working with the All Blacks medics, has made a thoughtful decision to protect himself, primarily out of fears that any damage to his powerful right eye could have major ramifications for his health in the future.

“A few years ago I realized I had poor vision in my left eye,” Savea explained via a press release from NZ Rugby. “It’s all a little hazy. I told All Blacks doctor Tony Page it was getting worse and now we’re doing something about it.

“Doc informed me that World Rugby had goggles that were approved and that everyone really supported me. In terms of sight and sight it’s pretty cool, and now it’s just a matter of get used to it. “

Italy, first five-eighth, Ian McKinley wore glasses during the Six Nations.


Italy, first five-eighth, Ian McKinley wore glasses during the Six Nations.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster told the press conference the day before Tuesday’s game at Oita Stadium that they were not concerned that Savea’s eyesight problems would affect his game.

“We’re not surprised,” Foster said. “He’s been dealing with it for a few years, but when he comes in over the last week or so and says he feels like it’s deteriorating a bit, we have a great medical staff, we trust the research that they performed, they I drew this conclusion and Ardie will now test it. “

Foster said it had been a “great week” to try on the glasses.

“We trained quite physically, it was hot, it was humid. We had a day where we were attacked by dragonflies in training, which was quite unique, quite special. He went through it all very well. and he feels really confident.

“He’s had poor vision in one eye for a while and he just thinks it’s a good time to protect the other.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is just a standard safety issue. It sounds a little different, but it’s not unique. I just think it’s great that Ardie has been willing to make a decision for his health. “

Foster confirmed that the goggles – approved by World Rugby and designed to be safe for both the wearer and others who may come in contact – do not have any type of corrective lens and are only intended for protection. Little did he know the loosie star wore contact lenses to games.

“It’s the right decision for Ardie,” he added. “And if that helps protect an area that other people have a problem with, I think that’s a great message.”

One interlocutor wondered if the World Cup was a “strange place” to test such rarely used protective clothing.

Foster didn’t want it.

“When a player comes in and says he feels his eyes are deteriorating a bit, don’t you think it’s the right thing for the player to do. I think it’s a very natural moment,” said he declared.

His All Blacks and Hurricanes teammate Beauden Barrett admitted he was not surprised by the sight of the glasses deployed last week at Beppu.

“It kind of makes sense,” he said. “I had never thought of it until now, but I remember some practices or games it was blinking a little more than usual.”

Savea said he was primarily thinking about his post-rugby well-being when making his decision.

“I have my baby girl and hopefully future kids and a bigger family so I want to be able to see. I just think about the big picture and try to protect my eyes.”

In a season where there has been every reason to stand up and applaud Savea’s actions on and off the rugby pitch, it’s just one more to admire a young man sending a positive message.

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