Rugby league bans trans women from from international matches ‘until further research’

England players during a rugby league match.

Trans women have been temporarily banned from playing international rugby league as the sport’s global governing body launches a review.

The International Rugby League (IRL) has said that trans women will not be able to play in sanctioned women’s matches pending “further research”.

The announcement came on Tuesday (21 June), less than 48 hours after the swimming governing body announced it would ban all trans women who had gone through any element of male puberty from elite women’s races.

Rugby league bosses said they will finalise a “trans women inclusion policy” by 2023.

“Until further research is completed to enable the IRL to implement a formal transgender inclusion policy, male-to-female [trans women] players are unable to play in sanctioned women’s international rugby league matches,” the IRL said.

This means trans women will be blanket banned from events such as the Women’s Rugby League World Cup in October and November.

The IRL now joins World Rugby, which governs sport of the rugby union, in banning all trans women from the sport.

The eight teams taking part in the Rugby League World Cup – Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cook Islands, England, France, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea – will be asked to give their opinion on the new policy.

“The IRL is continuing work to review and update rules about transgender participation in women’s international rugby league and will seek to use the upcoming World Cup to help develop a comprehensive inclusion policy,” the IRL said.

The review was initiated to “balance the individual’s right to participate … against perceived risk to other participants”.

The IRL added its decision was influenced by “several relevant developments in world sport”, including the International Olympic Committee saying each sport federation must decide whether athletes “may be at a disproportionate advantage compared with their peers”.

Many other international sports federation are reviewing their trans inclusion policies amid a furious manufactured debate over trans women playing sports with cis women.