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World Rugby Set To Ban Transgender Women From Competing

World Rugby Set To Ban Transgender Women From Competing

World Rugby looks set to become the first international sports organisation to ban transgender athletes from competing in events.

The sport's governing body released a statement citing 'safety concerns' as the main reason for their decision.

In a 38-page report, World Rugby confirmed they'd undertaken studies that show there's a '20-30% greater risk' of a female players getting injured after being tackled by a player who has transitioned.

Their research also suggests transgender women "are stronger by 25 to 50 per cent, are 30 per cent more powerful, 40 per cent heavier, and about 15 per cent faster" than female players.

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According to the report published in The Guardian, World Rugby claim: "Current policies regulating the inclusion of transgender women in sport are based on the premise that reducing testosterone to levels found in biological females is sufficient to remove many of the biologically-based performance advantages.

"However, peer-reviewed evidence suggests this is not the case.

"Ciswomen players (who do not undergo androgenisation during development) who are participating with and against transwomen (who do undergo androgenisation during development) are at a significantly increased risk of injury because of the contact nature of rugby."

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"While there is overlap in variables such as mass, strength, speed and the resultant kinetic and kinematic forces we have modelled to explore the risk factors, the situation where a typical player with male characteristics tackles a typical player with female characteristics creates a minimum of 20% to 30% greater risk for those female players.

"In the event of smaller female players being exposed to that risk, or of larger male players acting as opponents, the risk increases significantly, and may reach levels twice as large, at the extremes."

New Zealand win a line out against France in the Women's Rugby World Cup Semi-Final. Credit: PA
New Zealand win a line out against France in the Women's Rugby World Cup Semi-Final. Credit: PA

World Rugby's studies also cited the "significant" physical advantages testosterone can give transgender women during competition.

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In a statement to BBC Sport, the sport's governing body said: "The latest peer reviewed research confirms that a reduction of testosterone does not lead to a proportionate reduction in mass, muscle mass, strength or power. These important determinants of injury risk and performance remain significantly elevated after testosterone suppression.

"This presents a clear safety risk when transgender women play women's contact rugby and this position is reflected within draft guidelines that are currently out for stakeholder consultation prior to the World Rugby Council considering the matter later this year.

"Rugby is an inclusive and welcoming sport and World Rugby is fully committed to continuing to work with relevant groups to explore appropriate participation pathways for transgender athletes and is funding further research into the safe participation of all players in rugby. This is in addition to extensive non-contact participation avenues that are available to everyone at union level."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Rugby, latest news, Australia, Updates

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Max Sherry

Max Sherry is a journalist for SPORTbible Australia. After migrating Down Under from London as a teenager, he instantly fell in love with Aussie sport and its culture. From NRL to AFL, cricket to rugby — you name it, Max watches it (with a beer in hand, of course). During his time at Fox Sports, he worked in the football department covering the Premier League, A-League, Socceroos and Matildas. Born a stone's throw away from West Ham's training ground, Max is obviously a die-hard Liverpool fan.