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15th Oct 2020

Trans women cleared to play rugby in English competitive leagues

Trans women have been cleared to play rugby in England's competitive leagues by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the sport's governing body

Alex Roberts

“The RFU is committed to LGBTQ+ inclusion as well as safety and fairness across all levels of the game”

Trans women have been cleared to play in England’s competitive rugby leagues by the sport’s governing body.

The Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) ruling goes against World Rugby, who last week issued a statement advising against transgender participation in women’s rugby.

The RFU say more evidence is needed before it changes its position on the participation of trans women in competitive rugby.

World Rugby’s statement read:

“Given the best available evidence for the effects of testosterone reduction on these physical attributes for transgender women, it was concluded that safety and fairness cannot presently be assured for women competing against transwomen in contact rugby.”

World Rugby’s proposed new law would allow trans women to play in male leagues, but not female competitive rugby. This position was criticised by Stonewall, the UK’s largest LGBT rights organisation.

They said: “Rugby unions across the world determine their own policies on trans inclusion at a domestic level. The Canadian, US and Australian Rugby Unions have come out in support of trans inclusion. It’s time for all rugby unions to rally behind the trans people in their communities.”

Currently, trans women are permitted to play in all competitive leagues below international level.

Now, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) say they will not be adopting the World Rugby position on trans women in rugby.

The RFU statement says: “The RFU would like to thank World Rugby for the work it has undertaken on this complex subject which invokes many strong opinions.

“The RFU does not currently plan to adopt World Rugby transgender guidelines as it believes further scientific evidence is required alongside detailed consideration of less restrictive measures in relation to the eligibility of transgender players.”

While protecting player safety remains high on the RFU’s agenda, trans women will still be permitted to play in England’s competitive leagues.

The RFU statement continues: “We will assess the current evidence alongside safety concerns that have been raised. The RFU will also undertake further consultation with players in the women’s game to understand their views.

“The RFU is committed to LGBTQ+ inclusion as well as safety and fairness across all levels of the game.”