“Surreal & Scary” – Dubliner Ian McKinley’s View From Northern Italy

Ian McKinley

The lockdown which is currently in place in Italy is more stringent and further down the road than the one which we are currently experiencing in Ireland. 

Ian McKinley, the Dubliner who plies his trade with Guinness PRO14 outfit Benetton, spoke to the media last week and he described what it’s like living in a country which has been hit the worst by this global pandemic.

“Very surreal situation,” McKinley said. “Three weeks now we’ve been under this lockdown law. So life can be slow at times, you’ve just got to try and keep some structure during the day. That’s what myself and my wife are trying to do, not just let the day pass you by. Trying to do different things or try and get a different skill.

Ian McKinley

“It is certainly surreal. When you’ve got these numbers that are infected and because of that the death rate is so high, it really is quite scary. So it is a scary time for people, definitely.”

Irish people are already beginning to learn the pitfalls and challenges which are closely associated with self-isolation; cabin fever, monotony, anxiety and fear are common and understandable experiences.

McKinley is now entering his fourth week of lockdown in Treviso which is located in the northern Veneto region of Italy. He says that dividing the day up into segments and outlining subsequent tasks and goals are a helpful way of getting through the day.

Ian McKinley

“We try and divide the day into blocks, breakfast to lunchtime we do an activity. Then from lunch to dinner and dinner to bedtime.

“So, it varies from cooking, baking. My wife likes writing. I nabbed a Playstation, luckily from one of the guys who had a spare one – I hadn’t had one for about 12 years. So getting back some childhood memories!”

To make things a bit more difficult, McKinley lives in an apartment which means that keeping up with his fitness is more challenging as he describes doing laps around his building as his main method of cardio work.

Ian McKinley

“I live in an apartment. I’m lucky to have enough space down the bottom where I park my car. It takes about 20 seconds to run around the apartment block. So if you do that about 50 times that’s usually your fitness.

“I managed to grab a few weights from the gym in Benetton. The coaches have been good at sending programmes.

“Within reason, (depending on) what you have. That’s important more just for your mind. Because if you’re cooped up in a house or apartment all day, your mind will go ballistic.

Ian McKinley

“The weather’s been good, it’s only rained one day. The rest of the time it’s been sunny, so if you have a balcony or something you can get out and try to enjoy it as best you can.”

Living in a different country during a crisis such as this, away from family and friends, that can bring upon its own fears and concerns.

Although McKinley and his wife had an opportunity to return to Ireland, they made the thoughtful and commendable decision to stay where they are as the out-half explains:

“We had an opportunity, myself and my wife, to come back to Ireland. We had a 10-day period to decide whether, before they started shutting flights, we wanted to go back. We really thought that we don’t want to be a reason for the virus spreading. And if one of my relatives got it, that would be pretty difficult to live with. Living through the hard time here, which we did for the initial part, it wouldn’t have made sense to go to Ireland, to go for two lockdowns.”

Ian McKinley

Although speaking about rugby matters can seem futile in the current times in which we live, there is a potential ramification which faces McKinley due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

His job.

The 30-year-old is out of contract in the summer and how the pandemic impacts a potential contract negotiation or the opportunity of finding a new club is, as of yet, unknown.

But like most things in life, McKinley takes an admirable pragmatic view.

“I think the biggest thing is not having clarity. But again, you’re not the only one in that situation, there’s so many. I would consider myself fairly lucky in the situation I am. Some people have full-on businesses which are their own business and they’re really struggling. I know so many people here and in Ireland that unfortunately, their businesses have had to shut down or have completely closed.

“They’ve had to let lots of people go from their work. So, like anyone, it’s just the not knowing. The best thing I can say to you in this situation is just cross the bridge, whenever it comes, there’s no point in trying to guess. Because people literally don’t know and it’s a very valid reason for not knowing.”


Pictured playing for Benetton in this year’s GUINNESS PRO14 is Ian McKinley who shared his experiences coping with the Covid-19 Pandemic. Ian talked about missing rugby, the GUINNESS PRO14 and Benetton, how he’s managing his time and training whilst social distancing, and being away from family in Ireland while under lockdown in Italy.  

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email seanmc@punditarena.com or on Twitter