Life tips from Scott Bald­win: Don’t play with Lions!

BeRugby - - In The News -

Po­si­tion: Fly-half Club: Benet­ton - over 25 ap­pear­ances Coun­try: Italy - un­capped Height: 180cm (5ft 11in) Weight: 90kg (14st 2lbs) Po­si­tion: Hooker Club: Ospreys - over 120 ap­pear­ances Coun­try: Wales - 34 caps Height: 191cm (6ft 3in) Weight: 114kg (17st 13lbs) Num­ber of hands: 2!

Scott Bald­win, the Ospreys and Wales hooker, re­cently trav­eled with his Os­prey’s team­mates to South Africa for a PRO14 match against the Chee­tahs. The Ospreys were tak­ing in the sights of South Africa’s Wel­tevrede Game Lodge a couple of days be­fore the game. The lodge (like a sa­fari zone) is home to a range of African wildlife, such as ze­bras, wilde­beest, im­pala’s and lions.

De­spite be­ing warned against stand­ing near the lions en­clo­sure, Bald­win and some of his team­mates put their hands through the fence of the en­clo­sure and started stroking the lions! Scott was quoted as say­ing that he turned to give his phone to a fel­low Ospreys player; so that they could take a pic­ture, and while his back was turned, the lion bit his hand! For­tu­nately, there won’t be any last­ing dam­age, but Bald­win learnt a valu­able les­son: don’t play with lions!

Ospreys coach Steve Tandy wasn’t very im­pressed... “I don’t know what sort of wildlife show Scott has been watch­ing where you can pat a lion on the head as if it’s a kit­ten.” He went on to say that it is the “one of the sil­li­est things” he’s wit­nessed dur­ing his time in the game!

In 2010, McKin­ley was on the re­ceiv­ing end of a stray boot at the bot­tom of a ruck - the boot be­longed to one of his team­mates and would leave him with only 70% vi­sion in his left-eye. A year later, af­ter mak­ing his de­but for Le­in­ster, McKin­ley lost his sight and re­tired from rugby... how could he play on with only one eye?!

Fast for­ward six years, and McKin­ley is on the brink of mak­ing a re­mark­able come­back. Af­ter mov­ing to Italy, the Ir­ish fly-half has risen through the ranks of Ital­ian rugby, ini­tially coach­ing, play­ing at an Am­a­teur level, semi-pro­fes­sion­ally and now full-time with Benet­ton in the PRO14. He has now qual­i­fied to play for the na­tional team!

McKin­ley wears spe­cially de­signed gog­gles to pro­tect his eyes, all thanks to a friend of his broth­ers who made them at Univer­sity in 2013! He could now go on to grace the field for Italy dur­ing the Au­tumn In­ter­na­tion­als what a truly in­spir­ing story!

Images: Ryan Byrne INPHO, WRU

Novem­ber In­spi­ra­tion: Ian McKin­ley!

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