RFU under fire for ignoring risks to women in proposed trans policy

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has been warned that its proposed transgender policy puts women at risk by allowing men to play in the women’s game.

The draft policy is part of a review by the governing body for England, with a consultation on the issue closing next month.

Campaign group Fair Play for Women said: “There’s simply no known method to reliably monitor and ensure safety and fairness for females while also allowing some males to play women’s rugby. This is after all why we have male and female teams in the first place”.


The RFU’s draft policy defines a female as “a person who does not produce male levels of testosterone at puberty and adolescence”, rather than on the basis of their chromosomes.

The national body admits that “even after hormone therapy” men may still be bigger, stronger and faster than the women they compete against, but goes on to claim that those differences do not constitute a safety risk.

Female: a person who does not produce male levels of testosterone at puberty and adolescence

The draft policy would also permit boys under 18 years old, who would not otherwise meet the specified criteria, to participate in the girls’ game if a panel agreed.

Recommendation ignored

Last year, the RFU ignored World Rugby’s recommendation that men who claim to be women should not be allowed to participate in women’s rugby at elite level.

Following a review, World Rugby concluded that due to “safety and fairness” men should not be able to compete against women “at the top level where size, strength, power and speed are crucial for both risk and performance”.

But it allowed national unions to be flexible in their application of the guidelines. The RFU did not implement them, citing a need to see “further scientific evidence”.

Also see:

Women's Rugby

World Rugby: ‘Men should not play elite women’s game’

Australian Rugby urged to ban men from women’s game

Olympic legend Daley Thompson: ‘Patently unfair’ for men to compete in women’s events

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