Rugby Union is considered a ‘sport for all’ and as such the Rugby Football Union (RFU) seeks to ensure that anyone who wishes to play the game should be able to do so without prejudice. Whilst transsexual and transgendered people present certain considerations when playing the game, the RFU wishes to ensure that they have the opportunity to play whatever their acquired gender.
It is the responsibility of the RFU to regulate the participation of all players in both training and competition in rugby union. This is in order to promote the safety and equitable treatment of all taking part. Rugby union is a gender-affected sport where the physical strength, stamina or physique of an average person of one gender could put them at an advantage or a disadvantage to an average person of the other gender as competitors in a rugby union match.
Accordingly the RFU have produced this position statement to manage the enquiries on the participation of transgender people in rugby union.
Individuals who recognise themselves as transgender or transsexual or who have gender dysphoria should contact the RFU to discuss their specific case. Every situation will be reviewed on a case by case basis, including gender-affected issues such as the player’s physical strength and stamina. The safety and equitable treatment of all taking part are the most important factors that need to be taken into account.
The RFU have supported a number of cases which have resulted in individuals now participating and enjoying playing rugby in a positive and supported environment. Where viewed appropriate for an individual to participate, it is important that there is good communication between the club/school, player, parent/guardian(s), coaches and other key personnel to ensure that the experience is a positive one for the player. This may include support through transition and agreeing the provision of changing facilities.
The RFU’s current policy is under review to bring it in line with what will be the Olympic policy once it is agreed by the International Olympic Committee and the World Rugby policy. The policy is therefore in a transition phase at the moment but please contact us directly so we can work together to find a safe way for you to play in the gender of your choice.
Age Grade Players
As a starting point we always encourage schools to contact their local education authority who should have their own local guidance on transgender. This should be the school’s first port of call, given that the matter extends far beyond rugby. Once the school has decided its position, we can then provide advice specific to the game of rugby.
Players in the U11s age grade and below:
Up until and including the U11s age grade, girls and boys are permitted to play together in training and matches. In these age grades, players can therefore play in their gender of choice without any approval from the RFU.
Players in the U12s age grade and above:
From U12s onwards, girls and boys are no longer permitted to play together.
However, a player may be eligible to participate in their chosen gender subject to approval from the RFU on a case by case basis.
If a player would like to play and train with their chosen gender then the RFU would require the following;
- Parental consent and supporting statement
- Players DOB, weight and height
- Supporting statement from the school or club
- Any supporting medical note that may be relevant in considering the application
This would then be shared with a small panel to determine if approval should be granted. In the meantime, whilst this process in underway, the player is permitted to play within their biological gender group, if they feel comfortable with this.
The Gender Trust and Beaumont Society provide support and advice for transgender /transsexual people and their families. There is also information that clubs, coaches and/or teachers may find beneficial in providing appropriate support.
In order to progress a request to participation in the gender of your choice as an adult or age grade player or should you have any queries on this area, please contact AlysLewis@rfu.com who will be able to advise on the next steps.
You may also find the Transgender Player Request Form here