World Rugby has published new guidelines which set out that transwomen cannot play women’s contact rugby on safety grounds at the elite and international level of the game. They have given national unions flexibility in their application of the guidelines at the community level of the game.
World Rugby say their decision was taken after considering the best available evidence and say they will regularly review the guidance to monitor and consider any new evidence or research.
Previous policies, and the policies that remain in place by a large number of unions around the world, focused on lowering testosterone as the most efficient way to ensure fairness and safety when it came to transwomen playing rugby, but World Rugby and the consultation it took part in before the new policy was announced, say that this is no longer supported by evidence.
Full details of the decision making process, the guidelines and FAQs are here
The process was chaired by Dr Araba Chintoh who said: “This has been a complex and emotive process, but a necessary one. We set out to determine whether it would be possible to maintain inclusion in contact rugby based on the available research and evidence and rugby’s unique context of combining strength, power, speed and endurance in a physical, collision environment. As we progressed through a comprehensive and inclusive review, it became clear that there are compelling evidenced safety considerations which we simply cannot ignore.
“Unions will be able to exercise flexibility on a case-by-case basis at the community level of the game, for which the unions are responsible, while World Rugby will continue to prioritise inclusion strategies to ensure that the trans community remain an active, welcome and important member of the rugby family.”
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont added: “Rugby is a welcoming and inclusive sport and, while this has been a difficult decision to make, it has been taken following comprehensive consultation and engagement and for the right reasons, given the risk of injury. That said, we recognise that the science continues to evolve, and we are committed to regularly reviewing these guidelines, always seeking to be inclusive.”
There will be plenty of unions who will disagree with the decision. Already USA Rugby and Rugby Canada had outlined their view that the direction of the policy was wrong and said they would not support it.