RFU Council to vote on Gender Participation Policy for Rugby Union in England

By Alan Quick   |   Editorial Manager/Photojournalist   |
Wednesday 27th July 2022 5:43 pm
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FOLLOWING an extensive RFU consultation, the RFU Council says it will be voting on recommendations to put in place a new gender participation policy for domestic rugby in England on Friday, July 29.

The RFU began a review of its current policy in Autumn 2020, the review included a game-wide survey receiving more than 11,000 responses, extensive consultation with and listening to a wide range of views as well as considering scientific evidence and guidance from other sporting bodies.

The review and consultation concluded that peer reviewed research provides evidence that there are physical differences between those people whose sex was assigned as male and those as female at birth, and advantages in strength, stamina and physique brought about by male puberty are significant and retained even after testosterone suppression.

The RFU says that this science provides the basis of the recommendation that the inclusion of trans people assigned male at birth in female contact rugby cannot be balanced against considerations of safety and fairness.

The recommendation is that until such time as new science is available, a precautionary approach is appropriate to ensure fair competition and safety of all competitors.

The RFU Council says it has been provided with access to medical, scientific and social information so that it can consider this recommendation and the merits of any alternative approaches, including a case by case approval process.

However, it says that the case by case assessment is not without difficulties and can result in players not being permitted to participate.

It adds that in light of the research findings and work of World Rugby and the UK Sports Councils, and given the difficulties in identifying a credible test to assess physiological variables, it is recommended that this is no longer a viable option at this time and does not necessarily ensure inclusion.

Therefore, it says that 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.

In the male category it is proposed that players whose sex recorded at birth is female may play if they provide their written consent and a risk assessment is carried out.

The RFU states that 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 adds it is committed to supporting and encouraging opportunities for everyone to participate in rugby including non-contact formats of the game and through coaching, refereeing or volunteering roles.

For anyone who would like to find out more about how rugby can be inclusive to them and would like to get involved they can contact the RFU via: [email protected] .

If the RFU Council votes in favour of the change of policy, it will be introduced ahead of the 2022/23 season.  If this recommendation is not approved, then the current policy will remain in force.

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.

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