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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

'A big step': England hand out 28 full-time contracts to women's squad

The RFU say they want to drive growth in the women’s game at every level.

ENGLAND HAVE MOVED to fully professionalise their women’s 15s set-up by re-introducing full-time contracts for 28 players a year after originally scrapping them. 

The contracts will come into effect from 1 January next year, with 28 full-time deals, along with seven elite player squad agreements, made available by the Rugby Football Union [RFU].

Ireland Women v England Women - Womens 6 Nations - Donnybrook Stadium Sarah Hunter and her team-mates will be awarded pro deals in January. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Today’s announcement marks a significant reinvestment from the RFU into the women’s game, after around 50 players on full and part-time contracts were cut after the 2017 World Cup in Ireland. 

“This has long been our ambition and demonstrates the RFU’s commitment to growing the women’s game and the belief we have in the future of the sport,” said RFU chief executive Steve Brown.

All the contracted England players will be eligible to play for their clubs, returning to the RFU for international duties.

As well as reaching the World Cup final last summer, Simon Middleton’s side won their 13th Grand Slam title in 2017, although surrendered the crown to France back in March. 

“We are at a tipping point for women’s rugby globally and it is our ambition to be world number one and drive growth at every level,” added Brown.

“As an organisation, from top to bottom, we are very much behind this and want to see the continued expansion and growth to realise the ambitious targets we have set ourselves.”

It was announced last month that England will host Ireland in a November international at Twickenham on Saturday 24 November, preceding the men’s clash between the Red Rose and Australia.  

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Ryan Bailey

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