New Zealand Rugby confirm consultation on transgender policy

New Zealand Rugby is undertaking a consultation with stakeholders over itsr transgender eligibility policy and is 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 had 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.

It came as the International Hockey Federation (IHF) joined the raft of governing bodies reviewing their policy on the involvement of transgender athletes in women's sport.

"We are conducting a review of our transgender policy and this is a current work in progress in consultation with the(International Olympic Committee)," a spokesperson for the IHF said.

World Athletics, football's governing body FIFA and World Netball are reviewing their transgender inclusion policies after FINA's verdict, the strictest by any Olympic sports body.

Rugby league banned transgender players from women's international competition until further notice on Tuesday, while the International Cycling Union (UCI) last week tightened its eligibility rules.

LGBT rights group Athlete Ally said FINA's new eligibility criteria was "discriminatory" and "harmful", while transgender cyclist Veronica Ivy described the policy as "unscientific".

Advocates for transgender inclusion argue that not enough studies have yet been done on the impact of transition on physical performance, and that elite athletes are often physical outliers in any case.

The IOC said in November that no athlete should be excluded from competition on the grounds of a perceived unfair advantage, while leaving it up to sports federations to decide where the balance between inclusion and fairness lay.

"When push comes to shove, if it's a judgement between inclusion and fairness, we will always fall down on the side of fairness, that for me is non-negotiable," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in announcing his organisation's review.