The Scottish Rugby Union has banned transgender women from competing in contact rugby in the female category of the sport.

The move follows earlier decisions from the English, Irish and Welsh unions, among others.

The new policy comes into effect on February 1 and follows guidance from World Rugby and the UK-wide Sports Councils’ Equality Group.

Transgender women could previously participate in the women’s game in Scotland depending on the outcome of a “thorough medical process including testosterone tests” prior to registration to play.

The policy will be reviewed each year and if any new scientific data and research becomes available.

Transgender men may continue to play contact rugby in the men’s category provided a risk assessment has been undertaken by their club and the outcome logged with the SRU.

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A statement from the SRU board read: “We all have a responsibility to look after the participants in our game, with their wellbeing and safety at the centre of everything we do.

“We fully acknowledge this is a difficult and sadly divisive societal issue, and that has been especially apparent over the last few months. Scottish Rugby has been mindful of this and aimed to deal with the issue in a sensitive manner.

“Inclusion is a bedrock of our sport. Scottish Rugby wishes to be as inclusive as possible and is only imposing such eligibility restrictions based on the guidance provided. The decision to amend our eligibility criteria was not taken lightly as we seek to address conflicting viewpoints.

“Our Gender Participation Policy recognises the need to balance considerations of safety and fairness with our underlying desire to be as inclusive as possible.

“At this moment in time, Scottish Rugby has opted to make a decision which puts safety first, based on the current research.”

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