Category: Transgender

Encouraging Transgender & LGBT inclusion in grassroots rugby




Manchester Village Spartans RUFC are producing materials for distribution by their friends in Inclusive Rugby across the UK, that seek to help all grassroots rugby clubs better understand some of the issues surrounding gender identity and a player’s sexuality.

Originally due to be issued at the start of the 2020/21 playing season and now set to go live for the 21/22 rugby season, the campaign (which was held back due to the national lockdowns) will provide quick hints and tips for players and clubs in a simple, folding leaflet and poster in the hope that they can quickly become more knowledgeable and feel more confident when supporting their players and members. Ultimately becoming more inclusive and welcoming.

Gareth Longley, Chair of Manchester Village Spartans said,

“Rugby, as a game, already thrives on the differences between us and the huge growth in inclusive rugby across the UK demonstrates there is an opportunity for growth when clubs build more inclusive teams and embrace diversity.”

 “We believe that when a club is better informed and confident about how to deal with a player’s or new recruit’s sexuality or, gender identity, they’ll be better equipped to more actively recruit people who, may well be itching to pick up the sport but, currently don’t feel welcome.”

Dean Bee, former Spartans Chair and International Gay Rugby (IGR) advisor commented,

“We have listened to and worked with players in our own club and from several inclusive rugby clubs across the UK – and especially importantly, our Transgender and non-binary colleagues – who have massively informed what should go in the leaflet.” 

 “Because of this collaboration, we’ve been able to simplify lots of rules and regs into down-to-earth, practical rugby advice and, by tackling misconceptions and breaking down stereotypes, are able to show how some tiny changes in behaviour can make a world of difference to players who may feel excluded by a club.”

Verity Smith, from the International Gay Rugby (IGR) Social Inclusion team, and a well-known transgender rugby player and influencer added,

“Rugby is an amazing sport that people of all genders and sexualities often love just as much as the next person.  But too little time, fear, conflicting messages and rulings such as the leaked proposal from World Rugby can and does unfortunately often create more hostile and closed club environments even at grassroots.”

 “I can’t say loudly enough just how important it can be and how much of a positive impact a club can have on someone’s life, that ALL players – regardless of their gender or sexuality – should be allowed to play the sport they love and for responsible clubs to top up their knowledge – these hints and tips will take 5 minutes to read – so that they know how to support a more diverse squad of players and contribute to a better society by making people who feel outcast, feel welcome and part of a team.” 

In addition to an A5 booklet that opens up into an A3 Poster for display on a Club’s notice board, the campaign will issue Vox Pop Video messages and provide a hub online so that clubs can quickly and easily access all the latest info and links to welfare advice and relevant governing body articles.

Manchester Village Spartans are proud to have worked closely with England Rugby to promote Inclusive Rugby across England through campaigns such as Try For Change and Spirit Of Rugby 2012 and are pleased that England Rugby have stated that Transgender Women will still be allowed to play women’s rugby at all non-international levels of the game in England for the foreseeable future.

The Spartan’s idea to produce materials that encourage greater inclusion within grassroots rugby has been made possible with the support of the LGBT Consortium.

If you’d more information or want to request some booklets to hand out to your local clubs (or leave with your opponents after a fixture) please contact

Download Press Release

#ilbas #rugbyforall #morethanrugby #igr

Halloween Training raises £300 for Youth Charity.

Our Union & O2 Touch Squads unite to raise money at Halloween training sessions.

Manchester Village Spartans’ Union and O2 Touch squads joined forces on Saturday to raise funds for Mermaids, an incredible charity that has been supporting trans and gender-diverse children, young people and their families since 1995.

Whilst maintaining strict Covid-19 training rules, the multiple squads combined their training session times and used the Saturday morning run-out as an opportunity to put on some Halloween Fancy Dress, donate to the charity on arrival at our Sale Sports Club training pitches and managed to create a visual feast for the eye up and down the field.

Speaking of why the club decided to use the Halloween date as an opportunity to raise money for the charity, Gareth Longley, Chair of #MVSRUFC said, “Spartans have a quite a reputation across the IGR community for their Monday Fancy Dress tradition on tours such as the Union Cup and Bingham and with all the negativity around the World Rugby laws impacting the transgender community, the impact of covid on those tours and on our players, we thought we should try and bring back some fun, put our money where our mouths are, and do some good for a charity that does such an amazing job supporting young people and their families.”

Noah Donnelly, one of the most recent members to join the Spartans shared his important message at the session. 

“I’ve loved rugby since I was a child  but have avoided joining a club for all of my adult life due to fear of how I would be treated if anyone found out that I was transgender. Now at 29, I decided to join the Spartans because of the message of inclusivity and the support for trans players that was shown on social media. Since beginning training I’ve never been treated differently and the Halloween fancy dress event to raise money for Mermaids empowered me in a way that all transgender people should be empowered. Never underestimate the importance of being treated as an equal after becoming used to being treated as an outsider.”  

Noah added, “The Spartans have taken away all of that fear and worry. With each session it becomes clearer and clearer that the club understands that trans men are men and trans women are women and that all people deserve to play the sport they love.”   

With money still coming in, the treasurer of the club (and 2XV Union Coach) has already confirmed that over £300 has been raised so far, which shall be sent to Mermaids at the earliest opportunity.  

Check out our video and some of the photos from the session below.

You can read Stonewall’s Trans Report as part of their LGBT in Britain insights here.


Thanks to our friends at Bar Pop, the following players have won £25 tabs to share behind the bar for their incredible outfits.

1XV – Chris and AJ for their Game of Thrones hommage.

2XV – Morgan for his Wario 

02 Touch – Dan and Peter for their Mario and Luigi

Newbies – Bobby J for his Lifeguard

If you’d like to make a small donation to Mermaids, you can do so quickly and easily, via PayPal at or by scanning the QR code below and we’ll add it to the funds we’ll be sending over to them.

Covid-19 means that many outdoor activities are prohibited (unlike our Stage-D rugby training) but you can raise funds for Mermaids with virtual fundraisers – more info here.