We’ve got Jacob Lineen today. You might recognise the name – he’s from rugby royalty with his famous dad Sean, who played centre for Scotland. So that’s got to be the first question Jacob, you grew up in a rugby family – I guess football was out of the question and straight into rugby right?
There was never a football in the house! Always a rugby ball in the garden. I was lucky enough to have a brother, so we passed the rugby ball every day. I was lucky to be forced into rugby at an early age, so I didn’t really have the choice, but yeah, I love the game!
What position did you end up playing?
I play wing full back, so back three. The guy who scores tries on the wing. That guy.
Your dad didn’t say “come on, we need you more in the centre?”
I don’t think I was big enough to be in the centre to be honest. I think if my dad was playing now, he’d be on the wing too as he wouldn’t be big enough to be a centre either. I’m happy in the back three.
What level did you get to at school? And where are you now with your rugby?
Back in Scotland I played age grade Scottish rugby. After that I moved to Sydney where I’ve been playing for Eastern Suburbs. The aim is just to keep progressing, and if I play well enough to see where it goes.
So, we’re talking about night lenses and eyesight, when did you first start noticing that you were short sighted? At roughly what age did the glasses appear?
It was about 14 or 15 when I noticed that my eyesight wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be, and so I realised I might need glasses. I did try glasses for bit, wore them in school during class to stare at the whiteboard far away, but I wasn’t a massive fan of glasses and, sports wise, they didn’t work for me.
You turned up at school with glasses one day – what did your mates think?
Yeah, I got dogs abuse for wearing them! Apparently, some people just don’t suit wearing glasses. And I’m one of those people!
At that stage you’re progressing in rugby – did you notice your eyesight starting to affect your performance on the pitch?
Yeah, playing in the back 3, especially at a high level, there’s a lot of kicking and high ball catching. It was mainly during scanning the whole pitch, from one side of the pitch to the other, catching high balls, that you do start to notice the difference. The higher level you go, it’s always the “one percenters” that make all the difference.
As a full back you’re going for the high ball, the pressure is on you, you’re in Scotland so it’s going to be raining, it’s going to be muddy…
Exactly, it’s going to be dark as well!
So, wearing night lenses, did you find rugby easier?
My eyesight wasn’t terrible, so I could survive without wearing night lenses, but as soon as I started to wear them, I noticed a massive difference. At that stage I only had to put them in maybe once a week, and they sorted me for the whole week. As a lazy teenager, that was ideal.
Have you noticed the difference with your night lenses in other sports you play?
Yeah, massively. The main difference, funnily enough, was when I played family tennis. Everything was about half a second too slow to react to, it was like a fuzzy green thing flying at me. I just remember thinking that something’s not right here. As soon as I started using night lenses, I started hitting the ball a lot better. I was no Nadal, but I noticed a real difference.
Knowing what I do about your dad, he’s quite competitive right? I’ve got this picture of your dad smashing the ball at you. Is that how it was in the Lineen household? No quarter given?
There was no mercy in the Lineen household! It used to be me and my brother against my mum and my dad when we were younger. But now it’s me and my mom against my dad and my brother – and they just target my mum. There’s no mercy! My dad still serves at 100%. He still drop-shots and lobs her 😊
I can imagine! There’s a great story about the cricketer Ian Botham bowling full pelt at his kids … but then like his son Liam Botham, the no mercy approach seems to serve you all well! Would you recommend night lenses to other young rugby players, and indeed any rugby players, and why?
Absolutely I’d recommend them! They are so easy to use. You don’t have to deal with any the faff. The number of times I’ve seen a player on the pitch dealing with their lenses with their finger in their eye – that’s the last thing you want to be worrying about during a game. I’d definitely recommend night lenses – they make a huge difference, and they’re so easy to use.
We were chatting before this interview about the Ulster #8 who was caught on camera fiddling with his lenses for about 6 minutes before the medic came on to help him get them sorted. Within that time there was a line out and scrum. The last thing you want to be thinking about is a problem with your lens whilst performing at an elite level, or at any level really. Night lenses solve that, which is why many people call them a game changer for short-sighted sportspeople. Have they been a game changer in your life?
I would say so. If I didn’t wear night lenses and still had to wear glasses and day lenses, it would be a different story. I couldn’t even think what that would be like. I’ve become so accustomed to wearing night lenses that I don’t even think about me as someone who wears lenses, as I put them in at night and take them out in the morning, it’s as easy as that.
Long-time night lens wearers often say that they no longer feel like they have an eyesight problem anymore, as they no longer have to be aware of their glasses or day lenses all the time…
Exactly! During the day you don’t have to think about any of this stuff. It becomes second nature, part of your morning and evening routine for 30 seconds.
Thank you so much for this interview. Enjoy your time in Sydney! Good luck with your rugby career – we look forward to seeing how it progresses.