The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) will ban transgender women from female contact rugby competitions for the upcoming season after carrying out a review of its transgender policy, the governing body said on Wednesday.
The IRFU said the decision was based on medical and scientific evidence and is in line with World Rugby guidance. From this season, only players recorded as female at birth will be allowed to play contact rugby in the women's category.
The change in policy will affect two registered players in the country. The IRFU said it has held discussions with them to provide options for remaining active in the sport, such as in tag or touch rugby, refereeing, coaching, and volunteering.
"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," the statement read.
Transgender players whose sex recorded at birth is female can continue to compete in the male category if they provide written consent and a risk assessment is carried out, the IRFU added.
Anne Marie Hughes, spirit of rugby manager with the IRFU, said some people may be disappointed by the change in policy but it was "based solely on new research related to safety".
World Rugby last year banned transgender players from competing at the elite level of the women's game, citing safety concerns. In July, England's governing body (RFU) voted to restrict transgender women from playing in domestic games.
World Athletics and FIFA are among a number of sports federations reviewing their guidelines on the involvement of transgender athletes following world swimming body FINA's ruling to ban anyone who has been through male puberty from elite women's competitions.