Rugby-New Zealand Rugby consults on transgender policy

(Reuters) - New Zealand Rugby are undertaking a consultation with stakeholders over their transgender eligibility policy and are aiming for the guidelines to be as inclusive as possible.

A raft of sports are reviewing their transgender guidelines after swimming's global governing body FINA at the weekend banned any athlete who has been through male puberty from taking part in elite women's competitions.

World Rugby instituted a ban on transgender players in the elite women's game last year citing safety concerns and New Zealand Rugby's guidelines will focus on grassroots community rugby.

"We want sport to be as inclusive as possible," NZR chief executive Mark Robinson told Newshub.

"There's different possibilities here we just need to work through. We're not going to speculate at this stage or in any way circumvent the consultation we're about to undertake."

The consultation will include players and club officials as NZR are keen that any final decision involve those in the game at the grassroots, a spokesman said.

Alice Soper, a member of the Strategic Advisory Group member for Women in Rugby Aotearoa, said in a column for Stuff media that the doors to the game should be kept open as wide as possible.

"Since 2019, there have been eight requests for dispensation from trans rugby players in New Zealand," she wrote.

"For us to make our sport safe for trans men, trans women and non-binary participation, we will need to pull ... issues of diversity and inclusion to the fore.

"Simply put, rugby that is safe for trans players is safe for everyone."

World Athletics, the World Netball Federation and soccer's governing body FIFA are reviewing their transgender inclusion policies after swimming's ruling on the issue.

Rugby league banned transgender players from women's international competition until further notice on Tuesday, a move that drew criticism from Ian Roberts, the first elite rugby league player to come out as gay.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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