Emerald Warriors urge IRFU to continue including Trans athletes amid policy review

The news that the Gender Participation Policy is under review comes after the English RFU voted to ban Trans women from full-contact rugby in the nation on July 29.

IRFU women's rugby player in action.
Image: Instagram: @IrishRugby

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has announced that its current Gender Participation Policy is under review, with LGBTQ+ inclusive club the Emerald Warriors urging that it remain inclusive of Trans athletes.

Under the current policy, Trans men are permitted to compete in the male category subject to standard IRFU player registration consent and acknowlegments. Trans women are also allowed to participate in female competitions, provided that they declare their identity as female, and for sporting purposes, they cannot change this for a minimum of four years. Trans women must also demonstrate that their testosterone level in serum has been below 10 nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months before their first competition, and it must remain below that level while playing.

At present, the current guidelines also state that there may be exceptional circumstances that do not fall within these parameters, and they are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

“The IRFU has been delighted to assist several transgender men and women to play domestic game rugby in recent years,” a spokesperson for the organisation said.

“Our transgender policy is currently under review, based on emerging data and advice in the area of player welfare. The evolving debate on transgender people in sport is extremely challenging, particularly for the transgender community and their families.

“Therefore, any changes to our transgender policy would be communicated to those directly affected first, with a commitment to identifying ways to keep them involved as valued members of the wider rugby family,” they concluded.


The news that the Gender Participation Policy is under review comes after the English RFU voted to ban Trans women from full-contact rugby in the nation on July 29. Similarly, Trans athletes were banned from competing in women’s International Rugby League matches in June, and in 2020, the sport’s global governing body World Rugby made the decision to prohibit Trans women from participating in elite and international women’s rugby.

The pattern of banning Trans people from playing not only rugby but many other sports is an increasing cause for concern among gender minority sportspeople and their allies. Inclusive rugby club the Emerald Warriors issued a statement in relation to the current situation in the Ireland, saying: “We are proud to have collaborated with the IRFU in recent years on important issues promoting ‘Rugby for All’ leading the way with diversity, inclusion and equality, and wish to continue working alongside the IRFU for as long as there is a need around diversity and inclusion in the future.”

They continue: “We have requested the IRFU maintain the previous case by case policy that protects our game and ensures a route for participation. We have urged the IRFU to work closely with our community. Our trans and rugby family need to be central to all discussion and we have requested the IRFU carry out its own research and review.

“We the Emerald Warriors RFC, stand for inclusion, rugby for all and in solidarity with trans people across Ireland and the world. We are gravely concerned with the messaging that any change to this policy will have for trans youth, their families, friends and allies. There is a risk that the fall out and repercussions of any policy change will accelerate into other sports and transphobia overall,” the statement concludes.


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