Scottish Rugby amends its Gender Participation Policy

Updated document states: 'Rugby for players in the women’s category is limited to those whose sex was recorded as female at birth'

Murrayfield Stadium. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Murrayfield Stadium. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

SCOTTISH RUGBY has amended the eligibility criteria in its existing Gender Participation Policy which will be applied from 1st February 2023.

The amended policy now aligns with the already published positions of other rugby union governing bodies in the UK and Ireland which follow guidance from World Rugby and the Sports Councils’ Equality Group (SCEG).

The updated policy means contact rugby for players in the women’s category is limited to those whose sex was recorded as female at birth. The policy does not apply to non-contact forms of the game, such as Tartan Touch.


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Previously, transgender women could participate in the women’s game in Scotland depending on the outcome of a medical process including testosterone tests prior to registration to play.

The policy will be reviewed on, at least, an annual basis and in light of any new scientific data and research becoming available in the future.

Transgender men may continue to play contact rugby in the men’s category provided a risk assessment has been undertaken by the club in which the player is registered, and the outcome logged with Scottish Rugby.

A statement from the Scottish Rugby Board said: “We all have a responsibility to look after the participants in our game, with their wellbeing and safety at the centre of everything we do. Scottish Rugby’s aim is that everyone who is involved with our sport has a positive experience and goes on to achieve their full potential both within the game and in life.

“We fully acknowledge this is a difficult and sadly divisive societal issue, and that has been especially apparent over the last few months. Scottish Rugby has been mindful of this and aimed to deal with the issue in a sensitive manner. This update to the policy takes effect as Scottish Rugby’s club members begin preparations for the women’s Cup competition, and therefore require the latest information on player eligibility criteria.

“Inclusion is a bedrock of our sport. Scottish Rugby wishes to be as inclusive as possible and is only imposing such eligibility restrictions based on the guidance provided. The decision to amend our eligibility criteria was not taken lightly as we seek to address conflicting viewpoints.

“Our Gender Participation Policy recognises the need to balance considerations of safety and fairness with our underlying desire to be as inclusive as possible. At this moment in time, Scottish Rugby has opted to make a decision which puts safety first, based on the current research. As such, it is in line with World Rugby’s Transgender Policy and the Guidelines produced by the UK Sports Councils’ Equality Group whose recent recommendations we have considered and adhered to when updating this policy.

“To support our Policy, we will provide advice and guidance to players, clubs and to the volunteers who are the heartbeat of our game to ensure players of all genders continue to feel welcome and included in our game.

“Scottish Rugby remains committed to actively supporting any individual affected by our revised Policy and engaging with them, both now and in the future, as we navigate through this issue.

“The conversation on Gender Participation in rugby will continue and we will monitor best practice in this area and commit to, when necessary and appropriate, update our Policy accordingly.”

Further information on the review process undertaken by Scottish Rugby and a number of other questions have been outlined in a Q&A document linked below.


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About David Barnes 3192 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

1 Comment

  1. This is a courageous move by Scottish Rugby especially given the timing of the GRR. There are difficulties in any inclusion programme and that must always be considered by fairness and safety.

    There is a reason that we have separate categories of competition for men and women. Without it women wouldn’t win anything.

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