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