Reaction to World Rugby 'leak'

24th July 2020

Reaction to World Rugby 'leak'

The proposed new guidance is effectively a ban on trans women playing rugby

World Rugby set up a Working Group to develop new recommendations and proposals with regards to transgender people playing rugby.  In February 2020, World Rugby hosted a stakeholder workshop which aimed to provide information and evidence to the Working Group. 

The Working Group have now produced their recommendations and in a leak to the Guardian last week, the rules are claimed to be a significant departure from their 2019 policy position, they discredit the current IOC guidance and overall takes a position which effectively amounts to a ban on trans women players. Attendees of the stakeholder workshop in February such as International Gay Rubgy (IGR) and Gendered Intelligence have reacted with surprise by the turn that this has taken.  

In a statement on their website, IGR say that "the proposal seeks to implement an irrational standard without suitable research. These guidelines, geared towards elite rugby players, will significantly affect amateur rugby players, who comprise the overwhelming majority of rugby participants in the world".

LEAP Sports were not part of the stakeholder workshop, and at this stage we have not seen any of the papers or the proposed guidance. We know from our own research that trans (including non-binary) people are still far more likely to be excluded than included when it comes to playing rugby, and we are clear that any policy change which leads to less participation is a step backwards in relation to fairness and equality in sport. We do not believe that any policy change that introduces blanket rules on trans people's access to the sport can be workable and we look forward to working with our UK partners Pride Sports and LGBT Sport Cymru to scrutinise the detail.  

Scotland's LGBTI inclusive rugby teams have been reacting and responding to the news with a clear stance of solidarity. The Caledonian Thebans RFC have said they "do not support the proposal from world rugby that would ban Trans women from the game. As always, we stand in solidarity with our Trans siblings". The Glasgow Alphas have said they wish "to make it clear that we feel rugby is for all and that transgender people are welcome on our team and that we will scrutinise any research that attempts to reduce inclusion", whilst Aberdeen Taexali Rugby Club have said "We want to share the message that Aberdeen Taexali is inclusive to all players and we welcome any trans players to our team".  

There is currently a petition open which you can find here:  Petition Keep Rugby Open to Trans Women Athletes

Written on 24th July 2020.