Both formats of the game, rugby union and rugby league, have decided on the action
The Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL) have blocked transgender players from taking part in women’s rugby in both codes of the game in England.
The bodies released statements on Friday confirming an update to their policies, with regulations amended to permit only players that were assigned female at birth to feature in women’s rugby matches.
The moves bookend review processes dating back to 2020, with the RFU Council voting in their changes and the RFL board approving a new policy which will take effect next month.
“Inclusion is at the heart of rugby values and we will continue to work with everyone to keep listening, learning, and finding ways to demonstrate there is a place for everyone in our game,” said RFU president Jeff Blackett.
“We know that many will be disappointed by this decision, however, it has been based on all the scientific evidence available,” he added.
The RFL will review its decision in November 2024 and said it had concluded “a wide-ranging consultation with interested parties, government, stakeholders, participants and individuals who continue to engage with us on this complex area,” in a statement.
“We also greatly empathize with the personal journeys that individuals have experienced, in sport and in society, and we will continue to endeavor to work with all those actively involved to help us in developing our future policies, research and work in this area to ensure rugby league remains inclusive for all,” the RFL went on.
The development comes amid wide-ranging changes in sport with swimming governing body Fina also banning trans athletes that have completed any part of male puberty.
UK Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Nadine Dorries voiced support for Fina’s changes and encouraged UK sporting bodies to follow suit, with the RFU and RFL now heeding such advice.
Earlier this month, the British Triathlon Federation also confirmed a first-ever ‘open’ category in British sports, which Fina also vowed to create at a later date, made especially for transgender athletes.
The new policy will be introduced from January 2023 onwards, and has been created “for all individuals including male, [male and female] transgender and those non-binary who were male sex at birth”.
The RFU and RFL’s changes follow those made by International Rugby League (IRL) in late June when transgender athletes were banned from international matches.
Trans athletes will therefore not be allowed to take part in the Women’s Rugby League World Cup later this year which the IRL will use to help develop a “comprehensive inclusion policy”.