The Rugby Football Union has today recommended a ban on transgender women playing in women’s matches.
The decision has come following a two-year review, and the change in policy could be introduced ahead of the 2022-23 season if approved by the RFU Council.
A statement read: ‘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 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.’
The policy beforehand had seen the English governing body allow some transgender women to play women’s rugby on a case-by-case basis.
However, English rugby has now changed its mind, saying research provides evidence of ‘physical differences’ and ‘advantages in strength, stamina and physique’ due to male puberty.
The Rugby Football Union has recommended a ban on transgender women playing in women’s matches
The decision has come following a two-year review (pictured RFU CEO Bill Sweeney)
They therefore said the decision came because ‘the inclusion of trans people assigned male at birth in female contact rugby cannot be balanced against considerations of safety and fairness.’
The decision on transgender players sees the RFU align with World Rugby, who state: ‘Transgender women may not currently play women’s rugby… because of the size, force- and power-producing advantages conferred by testosterone during puberty and adolescence, and the resultant player welfare risks this creates.’
The Times claim there are currently five or six transgender women – who are active players because the RFU have previously seen no increased risk to opponents based on size and weight – playing amateur rugby in England.
The body also said players whose sex was recorded as female at birth can play in men’s rugby, providing risk assessment measures are carried out and that written consent is given.
The policy beforehand had seen the RFU allow some transgender women to play women’s rugby on a case-by-case basis.
The body also said players whose sex was recorded as female at birth can play in men’s rugby
Girls and boys will remain unaffected by the decision and can play in their respective current teams until they turn 12.
Should the decision be approved professionally however, rugby union would follow in the footsteps of triathlon, which last month became the first British sport to ban all transgender women from competing in female events at an elite and grassroots level.
The new policy comes into force in January and replaces the old guidelines set in 2018, which allowed trans women to compete against females if they had suppressed their testosterone.
International swimming federation FINA have also banned athletes who have been through any part of male puberty from elite women’s competition.
FINA also said it would create a working group to establish an ‘open’ category for transgender athletes as part of its new policy, which covers events in swimming, diving, water polo, artistic swimming, high diving and open water swimming.
The RFU’s decision aligns the body with World Rugby, who have very similar guidelines
British Triathlon have banned all transgender women from competing in female events. Pictured are Team France’s athletes at the World Triathlon Series event in Leeds last month
British diver Tom Daley hit out at FINA’s decision, saying: ‘You know, 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,’ the 28-year-old told iNews.
‘It’s something I feel really strongly about. Giving trans people the chance to share their side (of the story).’
But Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries agreed with FINA’s decision, calling for UK sport to follow swimming’s lead and ensure that only athletes born female are able to enter female competitions, saying the issue had been ‘ducked’ for too long.
Dorries met with representatives from football, cricket, rugby, tennis, athletics and other sports last month and made it clear in her view national governing bodies had to act, arguing it was ‘inherently unfair’ for women and teenage girls to compete against someone who was born biologically male.
‘Just met with sport governing bodies to discuss trans participation,’ the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport tweeted.
FINA voted to ban transgender individuals who had gone through any part of male puberty
‘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.
‘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.
‘We need to do this in a way that protects and shows compassion to all athletes – including the creation of open categories. But fairness in competitive sport has to take priority above all else.
‘Some clear direction is long overdue – not only for athletes, but also event organisers and fans. There is evidently more to do to make sport fairer for female athletes.’
Nadine Dorries (left) agreed with FINA’s decision but Tom Daley (right) hit out at decision
The International Rugby League then followed swimming with a change in policy
The International Rugby League then followed swimming with a change in policy, preventing athletes who have transitioned from male to female from international competition.
FIFA and World Athletics said last month they are also reviewing their transgender eligibility policies.
Sportsmail then revealed last week world football’s governing body has broadened an external consultation on its draft transgender guidelines to include more scientists.
But Olympic Games chiefs have been urged to improve controversial guidelines around transgender participation, with their latest guidelines being published in November last year.
FIFA has now broadened an external consultation on its draft transgender guidelines