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, 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 current policy 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.
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.
The statement read ‘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.’
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.
International swimming federation FINA have also banned athletes who have been through any part of male puberty from elite women’s competition.