Women's Six Nations match ball
The RFU said ‘safety and fairness’ were behind its recommendation to ban transgender players from playing female rugby

The Rugby Football Union has recommended a ban on transgender athletes playing female rugby.

The governing body says that players whose sex was “assigned male at birth” should not be allowed to play in the women’s category.

The recommendations follow World Rugby’s stance and come after the recent ban on “male-to-female (transwomen) players” from women’s international rugby league.

The RFU will vote on it on 29 July.

If the vote rules in favour of the recommendations, the governing body will change its policy before the 2022-23 season for English domestic contact rugby.

The RFU began a two-year review into its current policy in autumn 2020, which included a game-wide survey that received over 11,000 responses, considered scientific evidence and sought guidance from other sporting bodies.

The review concluded that there are physical differences between people whose sex was assigned as male and those as female at birth.

“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,” said a statement by the RFU.

“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 said it had contacted registered transgender female players “to offer its support in continuing to encourage them to participate in the sport”.

In June, Fina, swimming’s world governing body, voted to stop transgender athletes from competing in women’s elite races if they have gone through any part of the process of male puberty.

A few weeks later, British Triathlon become the first British sport to establish a new ‘open’ category in which transgender athletes can compete.

The RFU has proposed to allow players whose sex is recorded as female at birth to play in the male category “if they they provide their written consent and a risk assessment is carried out”.

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