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6 Nations

IRFU Updates Transgender Policy

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The IRFU will amend its gender participation policy for rugby from the forthcoming season, based on medical and scientific evidence and in line with World Rugby guidance.

The IRFU is keenly aware that this is a sensitive and challenging area for those involved and the wider LGBT+ community and will continue to work with those impacted, providing support to ensure their ongoing involvement with the game.

Recent peer reviewed research provides evidence that there are physical differences between those people whose sex was assigned as male and those as female at birth, and advantages in strength, stamina and physique brought about by male puberty are significant and retained even after testosterone suppression.

In Line With World Rugby Guidance

The new policy, which is in line with that of World Rugby, the RFU and other governing bodies, will mean that contact rugby for players in the female category is limited to those whose sex was recorded as female at birth.

There are two registered players affected, in Ireland, by this change and the IRFU has discussed the matter directly with them including options to remain active in the game, such as non-contact playing formats (tag/touch rugby), refereeing, coaching, and volunteering, underlining that the IRFU values their on-going involvement in the game.

In the male category, players whose sex is recorded at birth as female may continue to play if they provide written consent and a risk assessment is carried out. The IRFU has spoken to players we are permitted to contact directly and will work with them to support on-going participation in the sport.

Anne Marie Hughes, Spirit of Rugby Manager, who has worked on policy development in this area since 2014, said,

“The IRFU is committed to inclusivity and has worked with the players and other groups in the LGBT+ community to explain that this change is based solely on new research related to safety. This is a particularly sensitive area, and it is important that respect is shown to all members of our rugby family and the wider community.

“We will continue to work to be as inclusive as we can be and to explore areas such as tag and touch rugby, which we know some of our players are already considering, refereeing, volunteering, and coaching.

“We continue to stand with the LGBT+ community, and while we accept that today some may feel disappointed in this decision, we want to again underline to them – there is a place for everyone in rugby, and we can all work together.”

The IRFU is committed to engaging with World Rugby, and other organisations, to further explore options to allow wider participation in contact rugby. We are also committed to the ongoing review of the policy as new evidence, research and insights become available.

IRFU Gender Participation Policy

The policy and an FAQ document are also available here

World Rugby Transgender Guidelines – https://www.world.rugby/the-game/player-welfare/guidelines/transgender

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


6 Nations

Aki Banned For Eight Weeks

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Aki will be unavailable for the westerners’ next five URC games, including the derby clashes with Munster and Leinster, and will also miss at least the first two of Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures.

He will definitely be absent for the Tests against South Africa and Fiji, but could return to face Australia on Saturday, November 19 if he ‘successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme’.

After an act of foul play against Stormers winger Seabelo Senatla, referee Gianluca Gnecchi showed Aki a red card in the 60th minute of the game under law 9.20(a).

The particular law states that a player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another player in the ruck or maul.

In his responses to the judicial officer overseeing the disciplinary process (Pamela Woodman from Scotland), Aki had accepted that he had committed an act of foul play which warranted a red card.

She determined that his actions towards Senatla were reckless and took into account, among other things, the speed, force and high degree of danger in his actions.

Ms. Woodman determined that, had it been based on this conduct alone, the offending would have been categorised as mid-range on the scale of seriousness.

However, she also considered Aki’s actions and demeanour towards the referee in connection with the issue of the red card, which she found did not meet the expected standards of conduct or respect.

This was also taken into account (in accordance with URC’s disciplinary rules) in determining that his offending was at the top-end on the scale of seriousness, which warranted an entry point sanction of 10 weeks.

The judicial officer then considered if there were any mitigating factors and found that Aki’s acceptance that he had committed an act of foul play (during the off-field disciplinary process), expression of remorse, apologies to both the opposing player and referee, and willingness to engage with his provincial coaching staff on a plan to address this issue, were relevant mitigating factors.

These mitigating factors warranted a reduction in the sanction of four weeks.

Aki’s previous suspensions for red cards in 2019 and 2021 for foul play involving head contact, as well as his suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees, were considered aggravating factors, which the judicial officer decided warranted a further two weeks of sanction.

As a result, the Ireland international will be suspended for a period of eight weeks. As previously stated, should he complete the Coaching Intervention programme then the sanction will be reduced by one week.

Fixtures Bundee Aki is unavailable for:

Vodacom Bulls v Connacht, September 30, BKT URC
Connacht v Munster, October 7, BKT URC
Connacht v Leinster, October 14, BKT URC
Connacht v Scarlets, October 21, BKT URC
Ospreys v Connacht, October 29, BKT URC
Ireland v South Africa, November 5, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Fiji, November 12, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Australia, November 19, Autumn Nations Series (substituted if the player successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention programme)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Jones names squad for training camp

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England will begin preparations for their four home Autumn Nations Series fixtures in November during the camp. The squad will meet in Richmond on Sunday 2 October and train at Twickenham Stadium.

First call-ups for camp include Northampton Saints’ Alex Coles and Saracens’ Hugh Tizard, both players having previously appeared for England U20s.

Manu Tuilagi and Sam Simmonds are back in the squad following injury and there are returns for Ben Youngs, Alex Mitchell, Tom Pearson and David Ribbans.

England face Argentina in the first of their four matches at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday 6 November (2.15pm KO). They will then host Japan on Saturday 12 November (3.15pm KO), followed by New Zealand on Saturday 19 November (5.30pm KO). Their final match is against South Africa on Saturday 26 November (5.30pm KO).

“With a year to go to the Rugby World Cup, this is a big opportunity for players to come in and impress,” said Jones. “We want them to show real energy and enthusiasm and that they want to be a part of this massive year.

“It doesn’t mean that those who have been left out won’t be considered for the Autumn Nations Series matches. We’ll be looking at club games, form and fitness and the door is left open for those players.

“We finished the Australia tour well. It was a fantastic experience, particularly for the younger players. We now have to start again, but we’ll build on what we’ve done there and continue that momentum.”

Training Squad

FORWARDS

Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)

Alex Coles (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 37 caps)

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 41 caps)

Ellis Genge (Bristol Bears, 39 caps)

Jamie George (Saracens, 69 caps)

Joe Heyes (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)

Jonny Hill (Sale Sharks, 15 caps)

Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 14 caps)

Tom Pearson (London Irish, uncapped)

David Ribbans (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps)

Patrick Schickerling (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 14 caps)

Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 23 caps)

Hugh Tizard (Saracens, uncapped)

Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 64 caps)

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 70 caps)

Jack Walker (Harlequins, uncapped)

Jack Willis (Wasps, 4 caps)

BACKS

Henry Arundell (London Irish, 3 caps)

Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)

Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Owen Farrell (Saracens, 97 caps)

Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints, 2 caps)

George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)

Will Joseph (London Irish, 1 cap)

Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 69 caps)

Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, 1 cap)

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 42 caps)

Guy Porter (Leicester Tigers, 2 caps)

Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 13 caps)

Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 13 caps)

Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks, 46 caps)

Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers, 3 caps)

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 117 caps)

Unavailable for selection due to injury: Alfie Barbeary, Nic Dolly, Alex Dombrandt, Charlie Ewels, George Ford, Sam Jeffries, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Anthony Watson.


Images & Content from England Rugby
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6 Nations

New governance structure agreed for rugby in Scotland

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Scottish Rugby President Colin Rigby hailed a “significant milestone” for the game in Scotland when member clubs agreed a new governance structure at an online special general meeting last night.

The new structure, based on the recommendations on the Standing Committee on Governance (SCOG), sees the new Scottish Rugby Union (a company limited by guarantee) take on the responsibility for the oversight of the organisation’s main operating vehicle, Scottish Rugby.

It also will provide an oversight function to the organisation’s members.

Professor Lorne Crerar CBE, Interim Chair of the new Scottish Rugby Union, pledged to the SGM that “all the promises for a new, well-functioning governance system will absolutely be delivered.”

Professor Crerar also called on the membership to play its part in finding the “very best talent” to serve as “custodians” on the new company’s board.

Colin Rigby thanked members, SCOG, the Scottish Rugby Council and Scottish Rugby’s employees for their patience, while the new structure was arrived at.

He added: “This is a significant milestone in the history of the Scottish Rugby Union where all stakeholders now have clarity around governance, roles and responsibility.”

John Jeffrey remains chairman of the Scottish Rugby Board which will continue to oversee the day-to-day operational, commercial and executive functions of Scottish Rugby.

Earlier tonight, members voted unanimously to receive Scottish Rugby’s financial statements for 2021-22 at the second part of the organisation’s AGM.

During the period, overall revenue returned to within 5% of pre-pandemic levels at £57.9million, a rise of £5.5million from the previous year.

The accounts showed a deficit of £5.3 million on the base business, while the strategic investment from private equity partners CVC drove a gain on disposal of investment of £34.2million, bringing Scottish Rugby’s net surplus after tax to £29million for the year.

Images & Content – Scotland Rugby


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