The sport of rugby league on Tuesday banned transgender players from women’s international matches while it develops a “comprehensive inclusion policy.”
Its decision came a day after international swimming effectively banned transgender athletes from women’s races, placing them instead in a new “open category.”
Rugby league authorities said they needed to conduct further consultations and research to finalise a new policy for 2023, citing the “welfare, legal and reputational risk” to the game and players, per The Times.
Until then, transgender women players “are unable to play in sanctioned women’s international rugby league matches,” said a statement from the 13-a-side game’s governing body, the International Rugby League.
The decision means transgender athletes will be banned from this year’s Women’s Rugby League World Cup in England in November.
Rugby league authorities cited the International Olympic Committee’s decision last year that each sport should determine how athletes might be at a “disproportionate advantage.”
“The IRL reaffirms its belief that rugby league is a game for all and that anyone and everyone can play our sport,” it said.
The sport said it had a responsibility to balance each player’s right to take part against the perceived risk to other players “and to ensure all are given a fair hearing.”
The governing body said it would work with the eight nations taking part in the Women’s Rugby League World Cup for a “future trans women inclusion policy in 2023,” taking into account the “unique characteristics” of rugby league.
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