Transgender Player's Impact In Women's Rugby Sparks Complex Debate In Canada

Transgender Player's Impact In Women's Rugby Sparks Complex Debate In Canada Transgender Player's Impact In Women's Rugby Sparks Complex Debate In Canada
Jessica Gardiner

A seasoned female rugby player from the Stoney Creek Camels senior women’s team has spoken out against trans players competing in the rugby women's division after experiencing a tackle from a trans player during a match in Fergus, Ontario (Canada) in July.

“We are women,” a female player who was on the receiving end of the tackle told the Toronto Sun, “but playing rugby against men is a whole different ball game.”

The individual responsible for the tackle in question plays for the Fergus Highlanders Senior women’s Rugby team and is currently transitioning. The player, known as Ash, has registered as a non-binary person who identifies as female, standing approximately 5-foot-10 and weighing up to 220 pounds. Ash was also an MVP at the men’s level last season.

The female player, who preferred to remain nameless due to various reasons, clarified that her concerns aren't about opposing someone who is transitioning or transgender. She noted that Ash was friendly after the game but emphasized that she feels she is at a disadvantage.


This incident has sparked extensive discussion within the rugby community, with some drawing parallels to the Leah Thomas swimming controversy in the United States. However, a player pointed out that swimming doesn't involve collisions, whereas in rugby, collisions are an integral part of the game.

Diana Murphy, a friend of some players, tweeted about "three women’s rugby players [who] had to be removed from a game and treated for injuries from hits sustained by a transwoman".


Rugby Canada stated that there were no illegal hits, but insiders claimed that Ash received a yellow card for a hit to the head of a female player and Ash was subsequently pulled from the game. Rugby Canada indicated that this is a federal inclusion matter, and not only is this transgender player welcome in the league, but the law safeguards them against discrimination.

Managing Director Tania Richards of Rugby Canada stated, “We are aware of the matter in question but would advise that Rugby Canada has received no formal complaints. All rugby played in Canada abides by federal government laws which regulate inclusion in sport.”

Richards further clarified that no players were injured, and there were no illegal hits, as suggested on social media. However, there has been online harassment directed at the transgender player. While the Fergus club has not yet responded, they have passed on the request to speak with Ash.

According to Reduxx, sources within rugby clubs have revealed that certain female players are opposed to playing against trans players who were born biologically male but are hesitant to reveal their identities, fearing they may become targets or face cancelation.

All sides agree that this matter is "complicated." Rugby Ontario has communicated with members, acknowledging “concerns that have arisen about player safety in the context of a transplayer playing in club games” and expressed their commitment to working closely with Rugby Canada to address the matter.

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