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English Rugby Codes Ban Transgender Players From Women’s Game

New report says rugby a form of 'child abuse'

Transgender players have been barred from competing in both English women’s rugby union and rugby league matches, it was announced Friday.

Officials in both codes have amended their regulations to now allow only players born female to take part in women’s fixtures.

Each sport cited scientific evidence for measures they argued had been taken on safety grounds.

A statement issued by England’s Rugby Football Union, the national governing body for the 15-a-side game, said research provided evidence that there are physical differences between male and female-born players and that advantages in strength, stamina and physique brought about by testosterone and male puberty are “significant” and retained even after testosterone suppression.

It added this was the basis of a new gender participation policy that concludes “the inclusion of trans people originally recorded male at birth in female contact rugby cannot be balanced against considerations of safety and fairness”.

The RFU council approved the policy, which will apply from the start of next season, by a narrow margin of 33 votes in favour to 26 against, with two abstentions.

Friday’s announcement came after a review process dating back two years.

RFU president Jeff Blackett insisted inclusion was at “the heart of rugby values” and that his organisation would keep working to demonstrate “there is a place for everyone in our game”.

He added: “We know that many will be disappointed by this decision, however, it has been based on all the scientific evidence available.”

The board of the Rugby Football League, responsible for the 13-a-side code, have approved a new gender participation policy, to take effect from August and to be reviewed in November 2024.

Accepting this was a “complex area”, the RFL said they “greatly empathise with the personal journeys individuals have experienced ” and would continue to work alongside interested parties to make sure that “Rugby League remains inclusive for all.”

Male-female transgender players are barred from elite women’s international fixtures by World Rugby, rugby union’s global governing body, but national unions are allowed to pursue their own policies at lower levels of the game.

In June the International Rugby League, banned transgender women from playing in women’s international matches until further notice.

The ban will be in place for the men’s and women’s Rugby League World Cups in England later this year.

Friday’s announcements by the two English rugby authorities follow similar statements by other sports, with global swimming governing body FINA saying last month that any athlete who had undergone male puberty would be barred from its elite female events.

Earlier this month, British Triathlon said transgender women would be unable to compete against female-born athletes but could take part in a new open category.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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