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Rugby Football Union Recommends Ban For Transgender Women

Rugby Football Union Recommends Ban For Transgender Women

Currently, the RFU allows some transgender women to play women’s rugby on a case-by-case basis

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has recommended that transgender women should no longer be allowed to play female rugby competitions in England, following a two-year review. 

Currently, the RFU allows some transgender women to play women’s rugby on a case-by-case basis, with players previously granted permission after a risk assessment found they posed no increased risk to opponents based on their size and weight. 

However, the sporting body is now recommending that only those whose sex was recorded as female when they were born should be allowed to play in contact rugby. 

A statement from the RFU said: “The RFU council will vote on a recommendation for a policy change for contact rugby to only permit players in the female category whose sex recorded at birth was female. 

“This is a complex and difficult decision and the recommendation has not been made lightly or without thorough and full research and consultation. 

The RFU currently allows some transgender women to play women’s rugby on a case-by-case basis.

“The RFU has contacted registered trans female players, on whom the policy will have a direct impact to offer its support in continuing to encourage them to participate in the sport.” 

Over the years, transgender inclusion in elite-level competitions has become a huge topic of debate - with previous guidance from the UK's sports councils, published in September 2021, arguing it is not always possible to balance inclusion with fairness when sex can have an impact on sporting results.

Last month, swimming’s world governing body FINA announced that athletes who had been through male puberty would be banned from female competition, seeking to instead create an ‘open’ category for transgender female competitors. 

In the wake of the news, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said UK sport must follow swimming’s lead by ensuring that only athletes born female are allowed to enter female competitions. 

After meeting with representatives from football, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics and other sports, she said: “This is a complex and emotionally charged issue – but it’s one that has been ducked for too long. We can’t pretend that sex doesn’t have a direct impact on a person’s athletic performance. 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.

“Asking women and teenage girls to compete against someone who was biologically born a male is inherently unfair. 

“So today I have made my position absolutely clear: I expect sporting bodies to follow the policy that competitive women’s sport must be reserved for people born of the female sex.” 

Dorries added that this had to be done in a way that ‘protects and shows compassion to all athletes’, while also promoting ‘fairness in competitive sport’. 

However, the change was also met with a great deal of criticism – including from Olympic gold medal-winning diver Tom Daley, who said he was ‘furious’. 

He told inews: “Like most queer people, anyone that’s told that they can’t compete or can’t do something they love just because of who they are, it’s not on. 

“It’s something I feel really strongly about. Giving trans people the chance to share their side.” 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, Sport, Rugby