Rugby League: Transgender athletes banned from international matches, upcoming World Cup

Rugby league's world body has banned transgender athletes from playing the game at international level.

After FINA's move to ban participation of athletes who have transitioned after the age of 12, other sports - including football and athletics - have begun to review their own policies of transgender athletes.

Rugby league has gone a step further, ruling transgender athletes are banned from international competition, including this year's World Cup in England.

Athletes who have transitioned from male to female will be barred from playing the game at the international level, with the International Rugby League (IRL) awaiting further research, before reconsidering.

"In the interests of avoiding unnecessary welfare, legal and reputational risk to International Rugby League competitions, and those competing therein, the IRL believes there is a requirement and responsibility to further consult and complete additional research, before finalising its policy," it said.

"The IRL reaffirms its belief that rugby league is a game for all, and that anyone and everyone can play our sport. 

"It is the IRL's responsibility to balance the individual's right to participate - a longstanding principle of rugby league and at its heart from the day it was established - against perceived risk to other participants and to ensure all are given a fair hearing."

While the IRL is the game's governing body at international level, the Australian NRL has not clarified its policy on transgender athletes in its elite competitions.