Transgender women will be banned from competing in female contact rugby games after a policy review by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU).
Trans men, however, will be permitted to play for men’s teams “if they provide written consent and a risk assessment is carried out”.
The rule change will come into effect from the upcoming season. “The IRFU is keenly aware that this is a sensitive and challenging area for those involved and the wider LGBT+ community and will continue to work with those impacted, providing support to ensure their ongoing involvement with the game,” the IRFU said in a statement. “Recent 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 IRFU said it has “discussed the matter directly” with the two registered players affected by the new policy, as well as giving them “options to remain active in the game”.
These include competing in non-contact playing formats, coaching, volunteering and refereeing. Moninne Griffith, chief executive of Belong To and co-director of Trans Equality Together, told the BBC that the move sets “a dangerous precedent”. “It is openly sending a message to trans people, their families and allies that they are not welcome in the rugby community,” she explained. “It is also setting a dangerous precedent for other Irish sporting organisations to follow their lead in banning trans players. “We note the IRFU’s values include respect, integrity and inclusivity.