World Rugby is consulting with expert voices and the global women’s game ahead of a ground-breaking forum next week that will pave the way for a comprehensive review and evidence-based commitment to rugby’s policies relating to transgender players, reflecting its mission of inclusivity while promoting player welfare.
World Rugby’s current policy follows the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) policy, but with the latest research suggesting that a reduction of testosterone does not lead to a proportionate reduction in strength and power, it is important for contact sports, such as rugby, to find an appropriate position for player welfare and risk.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “There is growing recognition of the importance of autonomy of gender identity in society and all sports are currently evaluating their policies to ensure that they are fit-for-purpose in the modern sporting and societal landscape. Rugby is no different and this forum makes it possible to explore the best available evidence and hear the relevant expert opinions.”
The forum in London will bring together independent experts and leaders in the fields of sports science, biology, medicine, ethics and law as well as rugby administration, medical and playing representatives to discuss the current sporting and societal landscape, rugby’s mission and defining principles.
In a ground-breaking move to support the presentations of the invited domain experts, the international federation is asking elite players for their views in order to get a representative view from the elite levels of game via the form of a questionnaire.
“World Rugby’s vision is ‘a sport for all, true to its values’ and we are committed to exploring the evidence from experts in the field of biology and medicine, together with insights provided by leading legal, ethical and social minds, to determine whether the current guidelines are appropriate for all participants.
“Importantly, we are undertaking an extensive consultation process that includes obtaining the perspectives of players who will be directly affected by this policy in both elite and community rugby. This is important in achieving transparency and buy-in,” Beaumont added.
World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Éanna Falvey said: “Sports organisations and the medical community alike appreciate that this is a complex area to negotiate. It is especially complex in a contact sport where size, strength and power can be influential.
“By bringing together the world’s leading experts for the first time at our forum we will be able to consider all evidence, considerations and viewpoints as we move towards developing an updated policy that is proportional, appropriate and good for all.”
Chair of the transgender working group and World Rugby Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarship recipient Dr Araba Chintoh added: “The fundamental objective of the meeting is to understand the relevant expert and game opinions and understand how we can strike a balance between inclusivity and fairness in a rugby context.
“As a working group we will then consider the information and outcomes to help inform the development of guidelines that will specifically cater for the unique rugby environment. I would like to thank everyone for their full commitment to this important process.”