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‘It needs to continue to be looked at’ – Fiona Coghlan foresees future changes to IRFU’s stance on transgender women

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Fiona Coghlan pictured at the launch of the new Irish rugby jersey

Fiona Coghlan pictured at the launch of the new Irish rugby jersey

Fiona Coghlan pictured at the launch of the new Irish rugby jersey

Former Ireland captain Fiona Coghlan has spoken about the IRFU’s recent ban on transgender women participating in female contact rugby, and insisted the issue must continue to be reviewed.

Irish rugby's governing body made the decision last week based on medical evidence, and followed World Rugby’s advice on the matter.

Two players based in Ireland were directly impacted by the ruling, while trangender men are permitted to continue playing male contact rugby, provided they undergo a risk assessment.

Coghlan, who has won 85 caps and represented Ireland at three World Cups, shared her thoughts on the issue and accepted the IRFU were unable to go against current medical research.

"I do think it needs to continue to be looked at," said the 41-year-old, speaking at Canterbury’s launch of Ireland's new jersey on Tuesday.

"I don't think it can just be shut down now and those players aren't allowed to play and feel they can't be involved in rugby in Ireland. When new research comes out and they are able to play, I think it should be revoked and changed.

"The IRFU went with World Rugby’s lead, in terms of the research that was done. I don't know how comprehensive that research is. I understand World Rugby did an 18-month review. They're only going on the information that's available to them.

"Obviously we want as many people playing rugby as possible to give them that outlet. From the IRFU’s perspective, in terms of safety, legal and insurance, they can only base it on science available to them.

"Legally, they probably can't go against the medical advice that’s there. Conversations between both parties are key too, to make sure they are involved and engaged going forward.”

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The 2013 Six Nations winning captain also shared her delight about the recent announcement of full-time contracts for the Irish women’s 15s side, who face Japan on Saturday as part of their three-week tour this month.

The full-time contracts will range up to €30,000 plus match fees and other bonuses.

"If you offered a contract to me, I would have bit your hand off for it," laughed Coghlan.

"I’m a little bit jealous alright. I don't think anyone thought it would happen so quickly. Every other country has turned pro.

"The contracts are absolutely amazing, but more important are the pathways to development, so the players we have can step up and get competitive gametime.

"As you can see from this tour in Japan, there's a lot of 18 and 19-year-olds who haven't played senior rugby. That’s because the pathways are there that weren't there previously for them to step up.

"I wouldn't worry about the results against Japan. It's about developing those players and seeing what potential they have. The Six Nations next year is more important."


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