Referees quitting after strong trans players included in women’s rugby

Getty Images/ Kelly Defina

Rugby referees of the women’s amateur game in England are quitting because they fear serious injuries are bound to happen if transgender women are allowed to play.

This comes after the referees were warned not to challenge heavily muscled or bearded players appearing for the women’s selections.

A transgender applicant must show through a blood test that their testosterone levels have been below five nanomoles per liter for the past 12 months. This is only half the level as set by the International Olympic Committee.

However, referees say they have been asked to take the reports on trust rather than check whether a player is cleared by the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

An anonymous referee said, “Being forced to prioritize hurt feelings over broken bones exposes me to personal litigation from female players who have been damaged by players who are biologically male. This is driving female players and referees out of the game.”

The laws of the game allow referees to be “the sole judge of fact and of law during the match”. They are required to remove players who present a danger to others or themselves.

The Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies said rugby was operating a double standard. Davies is also urging Olympic Chiefs to desist from using the sport as a “live experiment” for including transgender athletes.


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