Will Jubb was diagnosed with Rb at two years old and had his right eye enucleated. However, playing with one eye has not held him back from a successful rugby career. Nowadays, Will plays as a hooker for the York City Knights professional rugby league team.
When did you decide that you wanted to be a professional rugby player?
Well I didn’t actually originally play rugby, I used to play football. My brother played rugby and I would always go along to his training. My dad coached him, so I used to join in a bit. One day I just decided I was going to give it a go myself, then I just sort of fell in love with it from thereon and have played ever since.
How has your Rb journey been?
It was my mum who took a picture – and your eyes are meant to flash red in the camera flash, but my right eye went white. So she and took me to the doctors and after more tests I ended up being diagnosed with Rb. I was whizzed down to London to have my eye removed.
For the next few years, I had to go back down every now and again to make sure everything was alright. It was obviously very hard for my mum and dad, but we got through that and we’re all good!
How’s your depth perception when catching and throwing?
I suppose in a way, because I can’t remember seeing with two eyes or knowing anything different, I find it easy. The fact that my dad and brother were always playing games and throwing to me, I guess I learnt to adapt. It’s all I know.
What was life like growing up with an artificial eye?
When I was younger it was harder on my mum. Especially when I first had my operation because you just have a clear eye whilst they’re making your proper one.
But obviously young children are very much ‘say what they see’, so it was probably hard on my mum, whereas I was a bit blasé about it all. I didn’t really know what was going on, I just wasn’t bothered.
Growing up I’ve always been open about it with all my friends. At school everyone knew, and I would just laugh and make jokes about it. I’ve never really had any issues, which is lucky, but I think that’s more because of how I was so open and happy to talk to people about it. It’s sort of just been a part of me and I’ve been happy to go along with it.
Do you have anything that you’d like to say to young people who are feeling self-conscious because of their artificial eye?
You’ve got to get your own head around it at first, but the best way to go about it is to just be open and honest about it. I think the more you’re like that, the more it helps both yourself and other people to just deal with it.
Also, the artificial eyes nowadays are absolutely fantastic and are a perfect match – it’s really hard to tell the difference. People don’t even realise half the time.
How does it feel to have made it as a professional rugby player?
I still don’t see myself as having “made it” properly. I just want to try get better and do the best I can. That said, it’s a nice feeling to be able to do what do what you love and be able to play in the stadiums. It’s brilliant. I’ve been to Canada, France, and all over. It is a great feeling to be able to play in front of the fans.
What do you do outside of rugby?
I’m currently doing a PhD in Fisheries Science at the University of Hull. I also volunteer for the Wilberforce Trust in Yorkshire – they’ve got a section called ‘Club Wilbur’, which I’m an ambassador for, and they run events and activities especially for children with a visual impairment. It’s really great.
We get all the kids involved – getting them out and about doing things and showing them that there are lots of things out there that they can do.
The events also help their families, siblings get involved too so we can have a really good family day out.