The Rugby Football Union (RFU), the governing body for rugby union in England, have declared they will NOT adopt World Rugby’s guidelines on the transgender participation in women’s rugby. As such, transgender women will still be allowed to play women’s rugby at all non-international levels of the game in England for the foreseeable future.
World Rugby had previously ruled that trans women could no longer play international women’s rugby after a major review of the latest science concluded that the risk of “significant injury” was “too great”.
Research revealed by World Rugby identified that there is likely to be “at least a 20-30% greater risk” of injury when a female player is tackled by someone who has gone through male puberty. Furthermore, trans women retain “significant” physical advantages over biological women, even after they take medication to lower their testosterone.
The RFU however believe more work is needed to assess the scientific revelations, as well as investigating whether there are alternative safe ways to allow trans women to keep playing the sport they love, rather than ban them from the domestic game. This position, it is understood, is supported by a number of other countries, including the US and Canada.
World Rugby created new guidelines to cover the participation of transgender athletes in men’s and women’s contact rugby where it is possible to do so safely and fairly. The guidelines state that transgender men are permitted to participate in men’s contact rugby but the same does not apply to transgender women in women’s rugby.
“The RFU would like to thank World Rugby for the work it has undertaken on this complex subject which invokes many strong opinions,” an RFU statement said.
“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.
“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.”